Gen. Kenneth McKenzie also could not confirm President Donald Trump’s graphic description of Baghdadi whimpering and crying as he died.
“He crawled into a hole with two small children and blew himself up while his people stayed on the ground. You can deduce what kind of person it is based on that activity,” he told a news conference at the Pentagon.
“That would be my empirical observation of what he did. I’m not able to confirm anything else about his last seconds. I just can’t confirm that one way or another.”
He said four women – who were wearing suicide vests – and one man were killed at the compound.
Gen McKenzie said an unknown number of fighters also died after opening fire on US helicopters.
He added: “I want to make it clear that despite the high-pressure and high-profile nature of this assault that every effort was made to avoid civilian casualties and to protect children we suspected would be in the compound.”
He confirmed that Baghdadi had been identified through his DNA – adding that samples had been on file since the ISIS leader’s detention in an Iraqi prison in 2004.
Gen McKenzie said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s remains were flown back to a staging base for identification and were then buried at sea within 24 hours of his death “in accordance with the laws of armed conflict”.
ISIS deputy leader Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali has been killed in a US military strike in northern Iraq, the White House announces.
Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, also known as Hajji Mutazz, is described by US officials as the second in command of the group.
They said he was killed in an attack on his car in Mosul on August 18, and that his death would damage ISIS operations.
A number of ISIS leaders have been killed by US-led air coalition strikes in both Iraq and Syria in recent months.
Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali was a primary co-ordinator for moving large amounts of weapons, explosives, vehicles and people between Iraq and Syria, the US National Security Council’s Ned Price said in a statement.
In Iraq, Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali was “instrumental in planning operations over the past two years, including the IS offensive in Mosul in June 2014”, Ned Price said.
Photo NY Times
Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali is described as “the senior deputy” to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was reportedly seriously injured in another air strike by the US-led coalition in March 2014.
“Hayali’s death will adversely impact IS’s operations given that his influence spanned IS’s finance, media, operations, and logistics,” Ned Price added.
A second ISIS member who co-ordinated media, known as Abu Abdullah, was killed in the same air strike as Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali.
It comes several months after Iraqi defence officials declared another “IS second-in-command”, Abdul Rahman Mustafa Mohammed, dead in an air strike in northern Iraq.
Abdul Rahman Mustafa Mohammed, also known as Abu Alaa al-Afari, was killed inside a mosque hit by a strike in Tal Afar in May, they reported.
At the time, there were unconfirmed reports Abu Alaa al-Afari had taken temporary charge of ISIS operations amid reports its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had become incapacitated.
In June 2015, the US reported that more than 10,000 IS fighters had been killed since the international coalition began its campaign against the group last summer.