Drone footage sheds light on Niger ambush

Posted at 6:34 PM, May 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-17 18:34:04-04

(CNN/RNN) - The Pentagon has produced a 23-minute video that provides new details on how Sgt. La David Johnson died in an October ambush that killed him and three other U.S. soldiers in Niger .

His fate captured national attention when it was revealed he was missing two days after the ambush.

ISIS operatives killed him, and Nigerien forces recovered his body from under a tree 48 hours later. An American drone captured the moment.

He had initially been separated under fire from his fellow soldiers and made a heroic last stand to run to the tree for cover.

“An enemy vehicle armed with a mounted heavy machine gun stopped within 100 meters of Sgt. Johnson's location, firing on his position and cutting off further escape while enemy forces closed in," part of the video states.

The video also reveals a Nigerien support force arrived and fired on a cluster of Americans and Nigeriens who had regrouped sometime after the initial firefight, believing they were ISIS fighters.

That assault lasted under a minute and no one was injured.

The October ambush occurred in remote Tongo Tongo near the border with Mali, more than 100 miles from the Nigerien capital Niamey.

American troops were accompanying Nigerien forces on a reconnaissance mission targeting the top ISIS commander in the region, Adnan Abu Walid Al Sahrawi.

As a meeting with locals to gather information on Al Sahrawi dragged on and a pair of motorcycles were seen leaving the village, the forces began to suspect they were being set up.

As they returned to their outpost, they were ambushed by about 50 militants.

In addition to Johnson, three more American soldiers – Bryan Black, Jeremiah Johnson and Dustin Wright – were killed.

Five Nigerians died in the attack.

Johnson’s death became a subject of media attention when his family said President Donald Trump’s condolence call was disrespectful.

Johnson's family has seen the images. The Pentagon said the drone video shows Johnson was never alive in enemy hands.

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