Christiaan Triebert+ Your Authors @trbrtc Visual Investigations @nytimes. Previously @bellingcat. Monitoring things, mostly niche. Retired hitchhiker. @quiztime. Usual caveats. Oct. 27, 2019 3 min read + Your Authors

This video purportedly shows the aftermath of the raid in which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the so-called Islamic State, was killed or blew himself up. Pretty sure it was filmed right here  https://www.google.com/maps/@36.1662287,36.6280065,379a,35y,338.61h,4.88t/data=!3m1!1e3  just west of Barisha (باريشا) in Idlib, Syria.

The destroyed compound visible in the video was built somewhere in early 2018, satellite imagery shows. The location of a large pit is later covered by the building.

Here's some insight in how the location of the video can be verified. First, I took several stills of the video as it pans, and stitched them together. This gives a better understanding of the surroundings such as buildings and hills.

Second, Barisha seemed like a good place to start because several Twitter and Telegram reports referred to it as the place of an ongoing raid. Here's one of the earliest mentions I could find of helicopters crossing into Idlib from Turkey. It was sent at 11:09 PM local.

The time of 11 PM local as the start of the raid coincides with what local sources told @Elizrael. At least two different videos of apparent helicopter gunfire were shared on Telegram and Twitter. I haven't been able to verify these as not much is visible.

These reports were also noted by @ryanmofarrell, who started to look around Barisha on Google Maps. He found, as mentioned above, these buildings that “stuck out”. Just speculation.. but the aftermath video can be matched with that exact location.

Here's a second aftermath video during dawn. It's showing the same, completely levelled compound near Barisha. This is slightly earlier than the video above, judging from the light. H/t @bdrhmnhrk @CalibreObscura.

Third visual from the same location. (H/t @vpkivimaki).

I've seen contradicting reports about the duration of the raid, but we'll probably know more when President Trump addresses the nation. For what it's worth, he tweeted this roughly 4½ hrs after the first local report of helicopters crossing into Idlib.

(For the open source investigative folks reading this, what fascinates me is that @ryanmofarrell found an interesting location on satellite imagery BEFORE any ground footage came out — and that location turned out to be exactly where it happened.)

For context and more information: “United States Special Operations commandos carried out a risky raid in northwestern Syria on Saturday against a senior terrorist leader there, two senior administration officials said late Saturday.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/27/us/politics/special-operations-raid-terrorist-syria.html 

The location raided by members of the Joint Special Operation Command's Delta Team “had been under surveillance for some time” and was “taken out with an airstrike in order to prevent the site from becoming a shrine to the leader.“  https://www.newsweek.com/trump-approves-special-ops-raid-targeting-isis-leader-baghdadi-1467982 

First post-strike satellite imagery of the raided site, per @planetlabs.

“According to local residents, the buillding was owned by a man known as Abu Mohamed al-Halabi [..] HTS sources said he was a well-known figure in Hurras al-Din, a lesser-known al-Qaeda offshoot started by disgruntled former HTS leaders.”

 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/27/world/middleeast/baghdadi-isis-leader-maps.html 

We've verified that this video shows an American airstrike destroying the compound in which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was found. It was filmed from a rooftop around 700 meters away, in nearby Barisha. (w/ @malachybrowne @evanchill)  https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/middleeast/100000006791542/trump-announcement-isis-leader-caught.html 

Here's the airstrike seen from above, as “U.S. special operations forces deploy precision munitions from a U.S. remotely piloted aircraft”. It completely destroyed the compound in which Baghdadi had been staying.  https://www.dvidshub.net/video/718664/us-forces-employ-precision-munitions-destroy-compound-and-its-contents 

The clearest image I've seen so far from Baghdadi's hideout before it was completely destroyed. Seems the image (still from a feed) was taken after the raid had started, given the damage to the building and the hole in the compound's wall next to the entrance gate.

The so-called Islamic State has confirmed that Baghdadi is dead. And announces a new caliph.

A day after Baghdadi died, the spokesperson of the Islamic State was also killed ( https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/27/world/middleeast/al-baghdadi-successor-reported-killed.html ). This has now also been confirmed by IS.


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