WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Answering the call to duty, a wounded hero dog was one of the few casualties from the U.S. special forces raid on the Syria compound of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But do not ask the dog’s name, because the military won’t say – at least for now.
The dog was described as slightly wounded after leaping into the fray on Saturday. President Donald Trump praised the dog during his remarks on Sunday describing the battle that took place at Baghdadi’s compound.
The dog “went into the tunnel” where Baghdadi killed himself with a suicide vest, Trump said. “Our canine, as they call – I call it a dog, a beautiful dog, a talented dog – was injured and brought back,” he said.
On Monday, the President tweeted a picture of the hero pooch but did not release the name.
“We have declassified a picture of the wonderful dog (name not declassified) that did such a GREAT JOB in capturing and killing the Leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” Trump tweeted.
U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was tight-lipped about the identity of the dog when asked at a Pentagon news briefing on Monday.
“We’re not releasing the name of the dog right now. The dog is still in theater,” Milley said, using the term for military operations. “The dog, the canine, the military working dog, performed a tremendous service, as they all do, in a variety of situations.”
Milley expressed confidence the dog would bounce back from its injuries.
“Slightly wounded and fully recovering – but the dog is still in theater, returned to duty, with its handler,” he said.
He stressed that the dog still needed some degree of anonymity as long as it is carrying out secret missions.
“It’s a classified unit and (we’re) protecting the dog’s identity,” he said.
Reporting by Phil Stewart and Steve Holland; Editing by Leslie Adler and Bill Berkrot