US military dogs chased the elusive Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi down a dark underground tunnel in northern Syria before the ISIS chief detonated a suicide vest that injured one of the specialised dogs, according to President Donald Trump.
Baghdadi, the ISIS leader who had a USD 25 million bounty on his head, died ON Saturday evening after US-led special forces raided his compound in Idlib Province, where he was hiding along with members of his family and some close aides.
Trump, who watched the whole operation live from the White House Situation Room, said Baghdadi spent his final moments "crying, "whimpering" and "screaming" after being cornered by US forces along with the military dogs.
"He reached the end of the tunnel, as our dogs chased him,” Trump told reporters at an unusual press conference on Sunday at the White House.
"He (Baghdadi) ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children," Trump said.
He said neither the US military dogs nor the American soldiers died in the raid.
"Our 'K-9,' as they call it," Trump said, "I call it a dog. A beautiful dog – a talented dog – was injured and brought back."
"The injury to the dog is an injury to one of us. These dogs are a special breed of courageous," one soldier assigned to Delta Force told the Washington Examiner.
The US forces' use of dogs was reminiscent of the Navy SEALs deploying a dog during the raid on al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan's Abottabad city in May 2011 that resulted in his death.
The White House and Pentagon have not provided details about the dogs, or the status of the one injured, the Fox News report said.
Ron Aiello, a retired Marine cited by The New York Times, said the dogs likely were either German shepherds or Belgian Malinois – the breed used in the raid on bin Laden.
"If they're leading the patrol, they want a dog that is not only an explosive detection dog but on command can be aggressive,” Aiello said.
"On a mission like this you want a dog that can be aggressive when necessary," Aiello said.
Baghdadi died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering, crying and screaming, Trump said.
"Last night was a great night for the United States and for the world. A brutal killer, one who has caused so much hardship and death, was violently eliminated – he will never again harm another innocent man, woman or child.
"He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place," the president said.