A contingent of U.S. Delta Force soldiers, with the assistance of the Kurdish military, undertook a daring hostage rescue in a small Iraqi town last week to free prisoners captured by ISIS militants, the New York Timesreported. NBC News managed to obtain rare helmet camera footage, reportedly taken by a Kurdish Peshmerga soldier, of U.S. soldiers bringing the pain to a cadre of brutal ISIS terrorists — and it's unlike any military footage you've ever seen.
The footage is a fascinating look at the military's elite reconnaissance unit in action, straight out of Call of Duty or Zero Dark Thirty (although the latter didn't actually have helmet cameras when they took Osama Bin Laden). Here's the version the Kurdistan Region Security Council released on their YouTube channel this week:
What exactly are we watching here? Former Marine infantryman Thomas Gibbons-Neff explains at the Washington Post:
Evident from the four-minute clip is the the professionalism of the joint force as they move methodically through the compound, searching hostages and moving them, most likely, to the waiting helicopters for extraction. The searches, while seeming redundant, are more than likely to ensure that the enemy hasn’t infiltrated the prisoner population with a suicide vest or other weapon. Also noticeable is the lack of suppressors on a lot of the weapons. Usually a staple of night raids, the lack of ‘silencers’ on the weapons points to what type of fight the Kurds and Americans might have expected on the ground — one that wouldn’t call for discretion.
The only other significant portion of the video shows the commandos moving a number of hostages to safety across what appears to be a “danger area,” usually defined as an exposed piece of terrain that acts as a focal point for enemy fire. The footage shows Kurdish and U.S. forces laying down covering fire while the prisoners move to safety — some are visibly bloodied. As the soldiers and prisoners move, parts of the structure are clearly burning outside, most likely from the concentrated airstrikes that were conducted at the beginning of the raid. According to U.S. officials, after the commandos and hostages departed from the area, an additional set of airstrikes destroyed the compound.
The raid liberated about 70 prisoners, the Times reports. Army Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler, highly-decorated fixture of the Delta Force team that had been supporting Kurdish commandos in their fight against ISIS, was killed in the raid.