NEW YORK (NBC News) – A new video purports to show Thursday’s raid in Iraq in which dozens of ISIS hostages were freed and an American commando was killed.
The video, exclusively obtained by NBC News from Jordan-based news outlet Arab24, was apparently taken on helmet cameras at a prison near the northern town of Hawija. Arab24 said it received the video from Kurdish military officials.
U.S. and Kurdish commandos stormed the prison in a pre-dawn, joint rescue mission after a tip that hostages there were about to be slaughtered. Oklahoma native Delta Force commando Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler was killed in the ensuing firefight, marking the first time an American has died in combat operations against ISIS.
In the beginning of the footage, a group of soldiers darts out of a building, weapons drawn, as gunfire and beams from flashlights illuminate the area. A steady stream of pops — possibly small-arms fire — rings out while a few other soldiers stand near the entrance, weapons drawn. Dozens of barefoot hostages dressed in gowns, some stained in what looks to be blood, emerge from inside the building.
The men hold their hands up to show they’re unarmed, looking up in terror as soldiers usher them out to safety. Some cover their ears and appear disoriented, stumbling as commands to “keep moving” are issued in Arabic.
The walls are pocked with bullet holes, and a fire appears to be burning on the other side of a cast-iron window by the entrance. Debris and broken bricks litter the ground.
It is not clear what the nationality is of the soldiers, who are well-equipped with rifles, advanced optics and other supplies.
Later in the footage, eight soldiers can be seen inside the building. What sounds like American voices can be heard. The soldiers weave through a room that has an ISIS flag affixed to the wall and furniture in it. One soldier climbs on a couch to get to the door.
They appear to be engaged in room-clearing operations, tactics used when entering a building where hostile forces are likely to be encountered. As the camera quickly pans over their faces, the video reveals that several soldiers have what appear to be roster numbers on the sides of their helmets and upper arms — standard operating procedure in many parts of the U.S. Special Operations community.
The camera then shows an adjacent hallway lined with closed, heavy steel doors with padlocks. The glass on the mirror in the hallway, as well as a TV or computer monitor screen, are intact, suggesting there were no explosives or gunfire in this portion of the building.
Ten or 11 shots are fired off-camera, causing the soldiers to stop in their tracks momentarily. They don’t appear to be panicked.
Much is not shown in the footage, including the moment when Wheeler, the highly decorated American commando from the top secret Delta Force, was shot.
The operation was the first known instance of American service members battling ISIS fighters on the ground in Iraq under President Barack Obama’s new mission to “train and advise” local forces against the terror group that has overtaken swaths of Syria and Iraq.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Friday that Wheeler had run toward the sound of gunfire and “did what proud Americans do.”
His actions weren’t part of the original rescue plan, but were crucial to making it a success, Carter said.
“I am immensely proud of this young man,” he added.