The Pentagon has revealed that the US military earlier this summer had tried to rescue American hostages held in Syria by the Islamic State (IS) but failed to find the captives.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement that the unsuccessful rescue operation “involved air and ground components and was focused on a particular captor network within ISIL. Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location.”
While the Pentagon has not named James Foley, US media reports claimed that the mission in Syria was aimed at rescuing him, among others.
A White House statement added that the President had 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 IS custody.
40-year-old Foley was publicly beheaded by IS a masked jihadist speaking English with a British accent, the video of which surfaced on the internet on Tuesday. Foley was kidnapped in northern Syria in November 2012.
“Any aggression toward the Islamic State is an aggression toward Muslims from all walks of life who have accepted the Islamic caliphate as their leadership,” the masked militant declared in the video.
The IS has also threatened to kill a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, if the US continues with air strikes in Iraq.
The execution of the freelance journalist provoked worldwide revulsion and condemnation with US President Barack Obama demanding the world take action against the “cancer” of jihadist extremism in Iraq. “When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done,” he said.
Branding IS militants as genocidal murderers who target civilians and subject women and children to torture and rape and slavery, Obama said, “Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers.”
“Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day,” he declared.