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Conan, The Military Dog Who Helped Kill ISIS Leader, Honored At White House

President Trump, Vice President Pence and first lady Melania Trump present Conan, the military working dog injured in the successful operation targeting Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, before the media in the Rose Garden at the White House on Monday.
Evan Vucci

The military dog who helped U.S. special forces kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last month was honored as a hero at the White House on Monday.

Conan, a Belgian Malinois military service dog, was honored in the Rose Garden by President Trump, who called the canine "incredible" and "brilliant." Vice President Pence and first lady Melania Trump also attended.

"Conan did a fantastic job and we're very honored to have Conan here and to have given Conan a certificate and an award," Trump said.

Conan helped the military special forces track al-Baghdadi down a tunnel during the raid in Syria, though the dog was injured during the mission. The dog has since made a full recovery.

"Having this extraordinary dog here today is all a reflection of our armed forces and the great job that they do. Conan is really a hero," said Pence, who petted the dog throughout Trump's brief remarks. "It's really a joy to be able to help welcome him here to the White House."

Conan was not accompanied with his usual handler for the event.

The Belgian Malinois resembles a German shepherd but is smaller and has shorter hair, making it an ideal choice to help aid missions and patrols in the hot Middle East.

"They're kind of the first line of defense," Ron Aiello, a retired Marine who runs the nonprofit U.S. War Dogs Association, told NPR last month. "Their job is to detect any type of danger that's out front."

Trump, who on Monday called Conan a "tough cookie," has previously praised the dog. He also tweeted out a photoshopped image of Conan receiving the Medal of Honor.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politics and is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.