Pentagon officials have said that earlier this summer, military special forces were sent into Syria to rescue American citizens being held captive by ISIS. Journalist James Foley was reportedly among these hostages.
The secret mission arrived on the ground in Syria where they believed Foley and others were being held captive, however, there was no trace of the hostages by that time. The exact location has not been disclosed. It was called a "complicated operation" by officials, involving dozens of Special Operations commandos. During the attempted rescue, the American team battled with ISIL members leading to one injured U.S. officer.
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. Kirby provided the following statement:
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 (ISIL). 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.
As we have said repeatedly, the United States government is committed to the safety and well-being of its citizens, particularly those suffering in captivity. In this case, we put the best of the United States military in harms' way to try and bring our citizens home.
The United States government uses the full breadth of our military, intelligence and diplomatic capabilities to bring people home whenever we can. The United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will work tirelessly to secure the safety of our citizens and to hold their captors accountable."
Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrosism, offered this statement to reporters:
As the Department of Defense has now announced, earlier this summer the President authorized an operation to attempt the rescue of American citizens who were kidnapped and held by ISIL against their will in Syria. The President authorized action at this time because it was the national security team's assessment that these hostages were in danger with each passing day in ISIL custody. The U.S. Government had what we believed was sufficient intelligence, and when the opportunity presented itself, the President authorized the Department of Defense to move aggressively to recover our citizens. Unfortunately, that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present.
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.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the remaining hostages’ families and their loved ones during this difficult time. We continue to call for their immediate release. On behalf of all Americans, we keep these individuals and their families in our thoughts and prayers.