Pentagon: 2 suspects captured in raid that killed ISIS leader

Pentagon: 2 suspects captured in raid that killed ISIS leader
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Top Pentagon leaders on Monday released new details of the weekend raid that killed the leader of the ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, noting that the U.S. military captured two adult men in the operation.

“There were two adult males taken off the objective alive, they’re in our custody,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told reporters at the Pentagon.

Milley also said that U.S. personnel have disposed of al-Baghdadi’s remains after they were transported to a secure facility to confirm his identity with forensic DNA testing.

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“The disposal of his remains has been done and is complete and was handled appropriately,” Milley said.

Al-Baghdadi was killed in a joint operation by U.S. troops and Kurdish forces in northwestern Syria on Saturday, after he detonated a suicide vest as U.S. special operations forces cornered him in a tunnel, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE said on Sunday.

Milley said intelligence from throughout the Defense Department and other agencies “identified the target location approximately four miles from the Turkish border in Idlib province of Syria.”

U.S. forces then flew by helicopter to the location to carry out the mission, and afterward used air-launched cruise missiles, guided bombs and Hellfire missiles to destroy the compound.

Milley confirmed that material was taken from the compound, but would not describe it further, noting that “that information needs to be exploited property for any follow-on mission that we may choose.”

Trump said Sunday that the raid spanned two hours and concluded with U.S. forces taking “highly sensitive material” related to ISIS.

The president has since said that he may declassify and release part of the video taken of the raid.

“We’re thinking about it. We may,” Trump said Monday before boarding Air Force One to Chicago. “We may take certain parts of it and release it.”

Milley, however, said the Defense Department is “not prepared at this time” to release photos or videos of al-Baghdadi’s death.

“They’re going through a declassification process,” he said. “I think what you’ll see here in the coming days will set up some tactical and operational and tactical level briefings by [U.S.] Central Command.”

Al-Baghdadi’s death is a blow to ISIS, already significantly weakened by the U.S.-led coalition, though it does not mean a complete end to the terror group.

Trump has faced scrutiny in recent weeks for his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, with many worried of an ISIS resurgence in the region once U.S. forces leave.

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Pentagon says Syrian oil revenue going to Kurdish forces | GOP chair accuses Dems of using Space Force as leverage in wall fight | Dems drop plans to seek Bolton testimony Pentagon: Revenue from Syria oil fields going to Kurdish-led forces The Hill's Morning Report - Dems poised to air alleged Trump abuses on TV MORE, who spoke alongside Milley, said despite al-Baghdadi’s death, “the security situation in Syria remains complex.”

“Acting as a police force out to solve every dispute is not our mission,” Esper told reporters, noting that the U.S. mission in Syria is still to defeat ISIS, the same as it was in 2014.

“Our recent repositioning of forces within the country is intended to posture us to continue this mission and give the president options,” Esper said.

He reiterated that the United States is sending “mechanized” reinforcements into eastern Syria to protect against possible attacks by ISIS fighters on oil fields held by U.S. partner forces, the Syrian Kurds.

“U.S. troops will remain positioned in this strategic area to deny ISIS access to those vital resources and we will respond with overwhelming military force against any group that threatens the safety of our forces there.”