WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Thursday tweeted that a dog used by United States special operations forces in a raid that led to the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria would leave the Middle East to come to the White House next week -- and then he declassified the dog's name.
After sharing a fake image from the conservative news website The Daily Wire that showed Trump putting a medal with a paw print around the dog's neck, the president tweeted that the "recreation" was "Very cute" but that the "'live' version of Conan will be leaving the Middle East for the White House sometime next week!"
It was the first time any U.S. official had confirmed the name of the dog -- a Belgian Malinois named Conan -- something military officials had declined to do in recent days, citing security reasons.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing Monday that the dog was "slightly wounded and fully recovering." Milley said that because the dog was returned to duty as part of a classified military unit, he would not be disclosing its identity.
At a press briefing at the Pentagon on Wednesday, two more details about the dog were released: It has served for four years and has participated in 50 combat missions.
Trump on Sunday called the dog, which was injured in the weekend raid that killed al-Baghdadi, "a beautiful dog, a talented dog."