Rescue mission to save Foley, other Americans, failed
The Pentagon has confirmed that a military rescue mission was launched several months ago to try and free American hostages being held by Islamic State.
"Several dozen" special operators targeted a compound in Syria where it was thought the Americans were being held. Failing to find them there, they moved on to another location where they engaged Islamic State forces in a fierce firefight. The hostages weren't present at the second location either.
A senior U.S. official also told Fox News the troops apparently just missed the hostages, as the Americans were believed to have been at the site just a few days prior to the mission.
Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said in a statement that the Obama administration chose to authorize the mission because of the "national security team’s assessment that these hostages were in danger with each passing day in ISIL custody."
An investigative source told Fox News that the "top-tier" group's mission included rescuing at least three Americans, including James Foley. The American photojournalist's horrific beheading by Islamic State militants, also known as ISIS or ISIL, was shown on a YouTube video Tuesday night.
Foley's killers are holding another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, who they have also threatened to kill. Islamic State militants are also believed to be holding an American aid worker.
A senior U.S. official told Fox News that the operation, which took place a couple of months ago, included "several dozen" special operators, multiple aircraft and at least one drone.
An additional U.S. military source told Fox News that the mission lasted for a few hours. After the troops did not find the hostages at the location where they were believed held, the troops found information that led them to a second compound.
At this compound, the source said, the troops engaged in a firefight with the militants, killing several including some "significant" members. No U.S. lives were lost but one servicemember sustained minor injuries.
The senior U.S. official said after the militants were killed, the troops swept the area and found the hostages were not there. The troops had hoped to find "several" American hostages, the official said.
NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said in a statement that the administration had not planned to release details of the operation, out of concern for the safety of the hostages. However, she said, it became clear Wednesday it would be reported in the media and the administration had "no choice but to acknowledge it."
This is puzzling. If the press had the story and was going to run with it, why not either deny it or try and get the press to hold off on the story? Now that the story is out there, the lives of any Americans being held by IS can probably be measured in hours.
It is possible that some outlets had the story for weeks or months and sat on it. I'd like to know who told the administration they were going to run it. They should be identified and chastised for their carelessness.
It sounds like the mission was carried out with typical competence and efficiency by our special operators. It's a shame they just missed our people by a couple of days.