The New York Times has confirmed that a video filmed by locals in northwest Syria on the night of the daring special forces raid which killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is authentic, and shows the moment a US airstrike obliterates the compound where he was hiding.
Filmed by a family in Idlib from a rooftop around 700 meters away from the site of the raid, in nearby Barisha, the dramatic footage shows a massive blast and fireball in the night sky at the moment of impact:
Initially CNN had first published what was at the time still unverified footage on Sunday, describing it as “video circulated by Syrian activists” purporting to show the raid.
A US elite group of commandos which included the Joint Special Operation Command’s Delta Team kept the compound “under surveillance for some time” and after the successful operation to kill to track and kill al-Baghdadi, it was “taken out with an airstrike in order to prevent the site from becoming a shrine to the leader.”
After what the Pentagon reported as a positive DNA forensic identification, Baghdadi’s body was said to be disposed of at sea, similar to Osama bin Laden.
The compound where Baghdadi had been hiding, later attempting to escape through a tunnel with three of his children while pursued by US operatives, was possibly owned by a leader of Hurras al-Din, which is an al-Qaeda offshoot.
Another video, this one unverified and shot in complete darkness, was among the first to emerge overnight Saturday immediately after the special forces raid in Idlib:
6-First video from Barisha, heavy clashes, helicopters can be heard. pic.twitter.com/XmvWUPgvx7
— Within Syria (@WithinSyriaBlog) October 26, 2019
Other videos currently circulating online, but which haven’t been verified, may have actually captured helicopters and a firefight in the night outside the Barisha compound.
According to an eyewitness description of the operation recounted by locals in The Independent:
“It was incredibly loud and started around midnight. The gunfire from the choppers was intense. It woke the residents up and terrified them,” said Ahmed, a Syrian journalist who lives in the area and later went to the site of the raid.
…Ahmed added: “When they left, after taking prisoners and killing the rest, a plane came and struck the house to completely destroy it.”
In a different part of the countryside, another resident said that the exchange of fire went on until 3am.
The New York Times says it’s looking into the authenticity of other potential footage as well.