Key point: Speed and reliability are important.
According to various accounts, in the early hours of October 27, 2019, eight black MH-47 and MH-60 helicopters raced low over Syria’s Idlib province, carrying around seventy operators of the elite special operations troops of the 75th Ranger Regiment and Delta Force counter-terrorism unit.
While F-15E Strike Eagle jets covered the skies overhead, the chopper were carefully refueled midflight by two MC-130J Commando II tanker-transports. Then they swooped down on a compound near the Barisha, Idlib province about four miles from the Turkish border.
A half-dozen fighters outside opened fire on the aircraft. A specially modified Blackhawk helicopter zeroed in on the trench they were hiding in using an infrared camera, and cut them down them in a burst of 30-millimeter automatic cannon fire before proceeding to knock out a parked minivan.
Assault choppers then deposited the operators, who after calling for those inside to surrender, used explosives to breach a point of entry inside and killed four women and a man who offered resistance. They rescued eleven children and captured two ISIS associates.
A military dog then led the operators on the trail of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Upon being cornered at the end of the tunnel, he detonated a suicide vest, tragically also killing two children he had taken with him.
Following a 15-minute DNA test of Baghdadi’s remains, the operators scoured the compound for intelligence. Two hours later, they reassembled onboard the jet-black helicopters and evacuated the scene as Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs reduced the compound to rubble.