The Islamic State on Sunday released helmet-cam video that purportedly shows the October 2017 Niger ambush that resulted in four U.S. soldiers being killed and raised questions about the team's mission in the African country.
The footage, taken from a helmet camera of one of the four soldiers, appears to show U.S. troops exchanging fire with ISIS-affiliated militants, BBC reported. The footage shows the firefight between the soldiers and the militants continuing until the soldier wearing the helmet-cam is killed.
A 12-member Army Special Forces unit was accompanying 30 Nigerien forces when they were attacked in a densely wooded area by as many as 50 militants traveling by vehicle and carrying small arms and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Several Nigerien troops also were killed during the Oct. 4, 2017, attack.
The convoy was reportedly in unarmored trucks when the ambush occurred on a return route from Niamey, Niger.
After completing that mission, the troops stopped in a village for a short time to get food and water, then left. The U.S. military believes someone in the village may have tipped off attackers to the presence of U.S. commandos and Nigerien forces in the area, setting in motion the ambush.
Sgt. La David Johnson, 25, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, 39, and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, 29, were killed in the attack. Johnson’s body wasn’t found until two days after the assault.
The footage begins with members from Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin terror group pledging their allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, BBC reported. The militants were formerly affiliated with Al Qaeda.
The video shows the soldiers taking position behind a truck during the firefight. The men released colored smoke grenades and attempted to run to nearby trees for additional coverage. The soldier wearing the helmet appears to fall after apparently being mortally wounded.
The SOFREP News website, which reports "news and intelligence from Spec-Ops veterans," posted the video scrubbed of its original audio "because it features a typical Islamic State extremist propaganda soundtrack paired with added false screams." The site says that the video should be viewed to "honor these men by watching their last stand, not by turning away; they were true warriors to the end."
Fox News viewed the video and reached out to the Pentagon early Monday. The Pentagon said it is aware of the video but did not confirm its authenticity and pointed out that these videos are "desperate recruiting" tools.
"The release of these materials demonstrates the depravity of the enemy we are fighting," the statement read.
The Pentagon had previously declined to release details about the exact mission of the team. U.S. officials have previously said that the joint U.S.-Niger patrol had been asked to assist a second American commando team hunting for a senior ISIS member.
CBS News reported the Pentagon’s final report on the ambush is expected to be released this week.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had previously said the military needed to investigate several matters, including whether there was adequate intelligence and equipment for the operation. The U.S. is also investigating why it took so long to recover Johnson’s body.
U.S. forces have been in Niger for more than 20 years and a joint special operations task force was created by the U.S. in 2008.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.