November 25, 2019 / 7:33 PM / 11 days ago

Trump welcomes dog who helped catch Islamic State leader to White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed an unusual guest to the White House on Monday - Conan, the military service dog who helped hunt down Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“This is Conan, right now probably the world’s most famous dog,” said Trump, flanked by his wife Melania, Vice President Mike Pence, Conan and a handler.

“We’re very honoured to have had Conan here and to have given Conan a certificate and an award that we’re going to put up in the White House,” Trump told reporters on the steps facing the White House garden.

Baghdadi, an Iraqi who rose from obscurity to declare himself “caliph” of all Muslims as the leader of Islamic State, died last month by detonating a suicide vest after he fled into a dead-end tunnel as elite U.S. special forces closed in.

Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command which oversees American forces in the Middle East, said previously that Baghdadi brought two young children into the tunnel with him. Both children were believed to be under the age of 12 and both were killed, he said.

“Conan is really a hero,” Pence said of the dog who was injured in the operation.

Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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