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US special ops tried but failed to find hostages


WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama sent special operations troops to Syria this summer on a secret mission to rescue American hostages, including journalist James Foley, held by Islamic State extremists, but they did not find them, officials say.

The rescue mission was authorized after intelligence agencies believed they had identified the location inside Syria where the hostages were being held, administration officials said Wednesday. But the several dozen special operations forces dropped by aircraft into Syria did not find them at that location and engaged in a firefight with Islamic State militants before departing, killing several militants. No Americans died but one sustained a minor injury when an aircraft was hit.

"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," said Lisa Monaco, Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, in a statement. "Unfortunately, that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present."

Officials revealed the rescue operation a day after the militants released a video showing the beheading of Foley and threatened to kill a second hostage, Steven Sotloff, if U.S. airstrikes against the militants in Iraq continued.

Despite the militants' threats, the U.S. launched a new barrage of airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq Wednesday. The Obama administration did not rule out the prospect of a military operation in Syria to bring those responsible for Foley's death to justice.

Disclosure of the rescue mission marks the first time the U.S. has revealed that American military personnel have been on the ground in Syria since a bloody civil war there broke out more than three years ago. Obama has resisted calls to insert the U.S. military in the middle of Syria's war, a cautious approach his critics say has allowed the Islamic State to strengthen there and make gains across the border in Iraq.

Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said the administration never intended to disclose the operation. But she said the U.S. went public Wednesday because a number of media outlets were preparing to report on the operation and the administration "would have no choice but to acknowledge it."

In a statement Wednesday night, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said: "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 harm's way to try and bring our citizens home."

It's unclear how many Americans the special forces attempted to rescue in Syria. While the officials who described the mission would not provide an exact number, other U.S. officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly, have said Foley was one of at least four Americans held in Syria.

Like Foley, two others are believed to have been kidnapped by the Islamic State. The fourth, freelance journalist Austin Tice, disappeared in Syria in August 2012 and is believed to be in the custody of government forces in Syria.

Administration officials would not say specifically when or where the operation took place, citing the need to protect operational details in order to preserve the ability to carry out future rescue missions. They did say that nearly every branch of the military was involved and that the special forces on the ground were supported from the air by fixed wing, rotary and surveillance aircraft.

Obama has authorized previous military missions to rescue hostages. In 2009, Navy SEAL snipers carried out a daring sea operation to rescue an American ship captain held by Somali pirates in a lifeboat. And in 2012, special operations forces successfully rescued two aid workers - an American and a Dane - held in Somalia.


Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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skitzlpk August 22 2014 at 3:01 PM

I've said it a hundred times already!

If the mission to kill OBL would have gone south, not a single word would have ever been disclosed to the American public by this crowd pleasing, chest thumping loser of a resident at 1600 PA. Ave.! That picture in the "situation room" would have never seen the light of day if the mission had failed!

I feel vindicated from this alone. This administration is totally covert & non transparent unless it's good news & this loser can get ahead in the polls over it.

He is no more than a political blowhard who is totally clueless on how to act as CIC!

My deep rooted hatred lies toward all you supporters who continue to cover up & lie for this sorry excuse of a human being!

You're worse than he is!! You're the real traitors!

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1 reply
grrr8ff skitzlpk August 22 2014 at 3:28 PM

Most people won't believe it until some of them blows up there house . On there death bed they will blame Bush

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leslie August 22 2014 at 3:28 PM

Guess Obama should have called in George's intel crew. . Ya know the ones that water boarded the scumbags that lead the "O" to Big Bin!

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dangorton August 22 2014 at 3:51 PM

The good thing is our teams haven't been further compromised by the POTUS making the announcement of what "he" did for political gain and taking credit as if he was actually a warrior.

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1 reply
Trisha dangorton August 22 2014 at 5:44 PM

Yeah he announced it is a lie.

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harborislander2 August 22 2014 at 4:03 PM

talk going around is our community organizer would not authorize the spec ops mission on a timely basis for the available intel and as a result the hostages were gone by time POS made his decision

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cooltool50 August 22 2014 at 5:59 PM

Probably another lie after the fact.

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Jerry August 22 2014 at 7:00 PM

Rescue attempt in Syria was bogus. The government is trying to convince the American people that an attempt was made in early July to rescue James Foley et al but were unsuccessful because the hostages were moved. Why do I think this is bogus? Because they government claims that several news organizations were going to release information about the strike yet they would not identify those news outlets. The second point is that any engagement with Isis would be fodder for Isis's propaganda machine. They would have claimed victory because the mission by the Americans was unsuccessful, that the Americans were in Syria with boots on the ground. Maybe I'm just an old skeptic..but it smells like a bad fish. Last item is that neither AOL nor Huffington Post* gave coverage to the story. *Huffington Post did a story but there was no comments section for responses. (until now story has been out for three days).

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skydrop007 August 23 2014 at 8:18 AM

This should have never been leaked. But it was so Obama could say he accomplished something in 8 years.

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Trisha August 22 2014 at 5:43 PM

What is sad is that anyone would believe any such operation existed. If it DID exist they would not announce the fact while there are still hostages in that operation to rescue. You need to see what a brain dead moron your Messiah thinks you are.

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chuck August 22 2014 at 11:55 PM

oboma probibly told them we were comming

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