Secret Operation to Try to Rescue James Foley and Others Took Place Earlier This Summer

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 20 2014 7:38 PM

U.S. Forces Tried To Rescue James Foley

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The Pentagon released a statement on the attempted rescue of James Foley on Wednesday.

Photo by STAFF/AFP/Getty Images

In the wake of news of James Wright Foley's execution, senior administration officials have revealed that the U.S. military tried to rescue Foley and other Americans held by ISIS in a secret operation earlier this summer. 

From ABC News:

U.S. special operations forces early this summer launched a secret, major rescue operation in Syria to save James Foley and a number of Americans held by the extremist group ISIS, but the mission failed because the hostages weren’t there, senior administration officials told ABC News [on Wednesday].
President Obama authorized the “substantial and complex” rescue operation after the officials said a “broad collection of intelligence” led the U.S. to believe the hostages were being held in a specific location in the embattled Middle Eastern nation.
When “several dozen” U.S. special operation members landed in Syria, however, they were met with gunfire and “while on site, it became apparent the hostages were not there,” one of the officials said. The special operators engaged in a firefight in which ISIS suffered “a good number” casualties, the official said, while the American forces suffered only a single minor injury.
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In a statement, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby stressed, “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.”

Emily Tamkin is an editorial intern at Slate and a M.Phil. candidate in Russian and East European studies at Oxford. Follow her on Twitter.  

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