The U.S. deployed special forces to Syria earlier this year in an effort to rescue slain photojournalist James Foley and other Islamic State hostages, but couldn’t locate them, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
“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,” assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco said in a statement.
“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,” she continued. “Unfortunately, that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present.”
[sharequote align=”center”]”Unfortunately, that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present.”[/sharequote]
According to Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson for the State Department, the mission involved both ground and air components.
Several Islamic State militants were killed during the mission, CNN’s Adam Levine reported, adding that no U.S. troops were killed, but one was injured.
Monaco said that she would “not be able to reveal the details of the operation” because of the “need to protect our military’s operational capabilities.”
“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,” she said. “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.”
Foley had gone missing more than a year ago in Syria. On Tuesday a video titled “A Message to America,” depicted him being beheaded by a member of the Islamic State terror group.
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