Senior administration officials revealed Wednesday that a special operations team authorized by President Barack Obama made a failed July attempt to rescue James Foley and other journalists held hostage in Syria.
The announcement came a day after a video surfaced of The Islamic State (IS) beheading Foley and threatening to kill another journalist if the president doesn’t stop airstrikes in Iraq. (RELATED: ‘Apparent’ That James Foley’s Killer Is A Westerner)
The operation ultimately failed, because the hostages were not where U.S. intelligence officials believed they were, officials told The New York Times. About 24 agents from all of the military services were dropped onto the site in a remote part of Syria from helicopters, and engaged with militants, apparently killing some of them, but did not return with any of the hostages.
One American was reportedly wounded when a U.S. aircraft came under fire, but the entire team was evacuated successfully. (RELATED: IS Beheads American Journalist On Camera)
“We never lost sight of the plight of these hostages,” an official told the Times. “We never stopped, never halted trying to get information about them.”
They told the Times the mission was not revealed earlier, so that any future operation would not be compromised — the decision to announce the attempt came after officials realized the media was going to break the story.
Officials did not release the names or number of hostages the team expected to rescue.
“We obviously wish this had been successful,” a senior administration official told the Times. (RELATED: Journo Who Lives In Fear Of Beheading Bashes Beheaded Journo)