Pentagon Officials: Baghdadi Strike Happened “In Spite” Of Trump
According to Pentagon officials, President Donald Trump’s decision earlier this month to remove U.S. troops from northern Syria complicated plans to conduct a raid on Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, The New York Times reported.
Central Intelligence Agency and Special Operations commandos were closing in on al-Baghdadi when Trump spontaneously ordered the withdrawal, despite being well aware of the situation.
That order “disrupted the meticulous planning underway and forced Pentagon officials to speed up the plan for the risky night raid before their ability to control troops, spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared with the pullout, the officials said.”
The president decided to order the troop withdrawal on October 6 after speaking with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was planning an assault against American-allied Kurdish forces in the region.
Officials told The Times that the successful raid on al-Baghdadi’s compound, as well as his death, were in spite of Trump rather than because of him.
Final planning for the raid occurred last week, after news that al-Baghdadi was preparing to move again. Military officials determined “it would be much harder to track him with the American military pulling out its troops and surveillance assets on the ground in Syria.”