United States Special Operations were involved in a top-secret rescue operation in Syria to secure now-deceased journalist James Foley and other American citizens being held by the Islamic State terror group.
Yesterday, video surfaced of Foley being ruthlessly executed by an Islamic State militant jihadist.
The mission–which took place earlier in the summer–was a complete intelligence failure, as the hostages were never on location, senior White House officials told ABC News.
The officials stated that President Obama fully authorized what they called a “substantial and complex” rescue mission after the intelligence community obtained what they thought was a “broad collection” of information leading to the hostages’ whereabouts.
“Several dozen” U.S. forces came under heavy fire from jihadi militants once they touched ground in Syria to carry out their mission. Officials said that U.S. forces turned the tables on IS fighters, as the militant group ended up with a “good number” of casualties, while the U.S. special ops counted only one minor injury.
The U.S. soldiers made their way through the incoming fire and advanced to the site where the hostages were supposed to be located and extracted shortly thereafter, but they found no such hostages. American forces then successfully made their way back to a helicopter landing zone and retreated back to base. Several military apparatuses were involved in the operation, including helicopters, fixed-wing jets, and surveillance drones.
The senior official explained what went wrong: “Intelligence is not a perfect science. The truth is, we don’t know. And that’s the truth. When we got there, they weren’t there. We don’t know why that is.”
Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said in a statement regarding the botched mission:
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.