Iraq Kurds release footage of US commando raid that freed ISIS captives

An image grab taken from a video released by the Kurdistan Region Security Council on Sunday purportedly shows the scene of a raid by Elite Kurdish forces supported by US Delta Force fighters in which they reportedly freed about 70 people who were be
An image grab taken from a video released by the Kurdistan Region Security Council on Sunday purportedly shows the scene of a raid by Elite Kurdish forces supported by US Delta Force fighters in which they reportedly freed about 70 people who were being held by the ISIS on Oct 22. PHOTO: AFP

BAGHDAD (AFP) - The government of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on Sunday (Oct 25) released footage it said was of the brazen commando operation it carried out with elite US troops at an ISIS-run prison.

Elite Kurdish forces supported by US Delta Force fighters freed about 70 people who were being held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) near the Iraqi city of Hawijah during a raid on Thursday.

The rare operation, which bore similarities with a raid against a top ISIS financier in Syria in May, resulted in the first death of a US serviceman since 2011.

It raised questions over Washington's commitment to its declared "no boots on the ground" policy although the Pentagon stressed that the forces involved in the raid were there in an advisory capacity.

The footage, apparently shot from a helmet camera, gives little indication as to the identity of the men who were freed from the ISIS prison north of Hawijah.

With the near constant crackle of gunfire in the background, the video shows what appear to be Delta Force troops and counter-terrorism forces from the Kurdish Regional Security Council (KRSC) - which released the video - conducting the raid.

All the footage is shot inside a building and shows a highly-organised, fast-paced operation during which detainees are lined up, searched and extracted.

According to the KRSC, the operation was carried out by 48 Kurdish and 27 US forces and resulted in the release of "69 hostages" and killing of more than 20 ISIS members.

The Pentagon has said the 69 released were ISIS members who had been jailed on suspicion of spying or simple local residents, possibly accused of violating the extremist group's strict rules.

It also said that clear information that the detainees would be executed the same day and visual evidence that their graves had already been dug clinched the decision to launch the raid.

However commentators have questioned why the United States would take such huge risks to take part in an operation, which the KRSC itself admitted did not result in freeing any Kurds.