President Barack Obama sent U.S. Special Operations Forces to Syria earlier this year in an attempt to rescue multiple American hostages held captive by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL), including American journalist James Foley, who was brutally murdered by the extremist group.
The operation was unsuccessful, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said, because the hostages were not being held at the location where U.S. forces were dispatched.
“The United States attempted a rescue operation recently to free a number of American hostages held in Syria by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. This operation involved air and ground components and was focused on a particular captor network within ISIL. Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location,” Kirby said.
U.S. officials told The Associated Press and other publications that several-dozen U.S. troops participated in the operation. One U.S. soldier was injured. A “number” of ISIS militants were killed, according to the AP.
Officials did not say precisely when the mission took place. Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president on Homeland Security and counterterrorism operations, said it is not possible to reveal details of the mission to “protect our military’s operational capabilities.”
However, senior administration officials told The Washington Post the rescue attempt was based on intelligence gleaned from at least six western hostages who were freed by the militant group.
“The U.S. Government had what we believed was sufficient intelligence, and when the opportunity presented itself, the President authorised the Department of Defence to move aggressively to recover our citizens. Unfortunately, that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present,” Monaco said.
“Given the need to protect our military’s operational capabilities, we will not be able to reveal the details of this operation. But the President could not be prouder of the U.S. forces who carried out this mission and the dedicated intelligence and diplomatic professionals who supported their efforts. Their effort should serve as another signal to those who would do us harm that the United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will spare no effort to secure the safety of our citizens and to hold their captors accountable.”
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