Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi is displayed on a monitor as Gen. Kenneth McKenzie speaks at a joint press briefing. AP
The head of US Central Command says Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was buried at sea after a weekend raid on his compound.
Gen. Frank McKenzie told reporters on Wednesday that Al Baghdadi died after he exploded a suicide vest just before US troops were going to capture him.
McKenzie says two children were killed in the explosion set off by the Daesh leader.
The US said earlier that three children were killed.
US forces raided the compound in northwestern Syria on Saturday. There were no US casualties.
A US counterterrorism official says he expects a new Daesh leader to emerge after the death of Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi and warns that the extremist group's planning of major attacks probably will go on as before.
“The ideology continues, the resonance continues, and that is a strategic concern for us,” Russell Travers, the acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said at a congressional hearing on global threats.
Travers says the killing of Daesh leader Al Baghdadi by US forces in Syria on Saturday was a "significant" development. But he says that Daesh, which once controlled a large swath of Iraq and Syria, has a "deep bench" of figures who could replace Al Baghdadi.
Pentagon releases new details
The general who oversaw the US raid on Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi provided the most detailed account yet of the operation on Wednesday and said the US is on alert for possible "retribution attacks" by extremists.
Gen. Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said Al Baghdadi's remains were buried at sea within 24 hours of his death inside an underground tunnel where he fled as special operations soldiers closed in on him.
The Pentagon released the first government photos and video clips of the nighttime operation, including one showing Delta Force commandos approaching the walls of the compound in which Al Baghdadi and others were found.
Another video showed American airstrikes on other militants who fired at helicopters carrying soldiers to the compound. The US also bombed the compound after the soldiers completed the mission so that it would not stand as a shrine to Al Baghdadi.
"It looks pretty much like a parking lot with large potholes right now," McKenzie said.
The attacking American force launched from an undisclosed location inside Syria for the one-hour helicopter ride to the compound, McKenzie said.
The dog, a male whose name has not been released because the mission was classified, was injured when he came in contact with exposed live electrical cables in the tunnel after Al Baghdadi detonated his vest, McKenzie said. He said the dog has returned to duty.
Baghdadi was identified by comparing his DNA to a sample collected in 2004 by US forces in Iraq, where he had been detained.
Other senior Pentagon officials, including Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have said they could not confirm Trump's description.
Several times this month, President Donald Trump has said he is withdrawing from Syria and that the troops are "coming home." But, in fact, the US military remains in the country, shifting positions and gearing up to execute Trump's order to secure Syria's oil fields — not for the Syrian government but for the Kurds. Trump also has said he wants to "keep" the oil, although it's unclear what he means.
Chased by the dogs and confronted by a dead end, Baghdadi - 'whimpering and crying and screaming,' according to Trump - ignited his suicide vest, killing himself and his children and causing the tunnel to collapse.
The developments made clear that one of President Donald Trump's rationales for withdrawing troops from Syria was not going to come to pass any time soon. "It's time to bring our soldiers back home," he said Wednesday. But they are not coming home.
President Donald Trump did not just commend the American forces who succeeded in capturing and killing Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi in northeastern Syria. He also showered praise on a dog that tracked down the head of Daesh.
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