US calls helmet-cam video of Iraqi prison raid 'authentic'
October 26, 2015
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon acknowledged Monday that a video released this weekend shows the Iraqi prison rescue operation that led to the death of Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, a U.S. Army special forces operator.
“The video is authentic,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said, noting the United States approved the Iraqi peshmerga’s use of the helmet cameras and knew the video would be released publicly.
Wheeler, 39, was part of the U.S. and Iraqi night rescue last week in which “dozens” of forces were transported on five helicopters to a prison compound in the former Islamic State-controlled town of Hawijah.
Seventy Iraqi prisoners were rescued in the raid who Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said faced imminent execution from the Islamic State.
Davis said Monday that the video shows peshmerga special forces assisted by U.S. special forces inside the prison. A line of men in robes can be seen in the video escorted through hallways and dark rooms of the prison as men in military uniforms carrying weapons direct them and respond to gunfire.
Davis said Wheeler was shot in the early part of the operation, and the video shows what happened later during the rescue. The Pentagon has said Wheeler died as a result of his wounds after receiving medical care in Irbil.
The footage shows “the Iraqi Kurdish forces had come under heavy fire and had been pinned down. And the U.S. forces that were enabling them made the decision to invoke the authorities they have” to intervene and protect the forces,” Davis said.
During the weekend, U.S. and coalition aircraft conducted two airstrikes to destroy the remains of the prison structure.