A United States Special Operations team tried and failed to rescue James Foley and other Americans held hostage in Syria during a secret mission this summer authorized by President Obama, senior administration officials said Wednesday.
A day after Sunni militants posted a video showing Mr. Foley being beheaded, officials described what they called a “complicated operation” in which several dozen commandos were dropped into a remote area of Syria where American intelligence agencies believed several hostages were being held.
But when the Special Operations team arrived on the scene, the hostages were not there. Officials said the commandos exchanged fire with militants, and one American was slightly wounded when one of the United States aircraft came under fire.
All of the team members were evacuated successfully. “It was not ultimately successful because the hostages were not present at the location of the operation,” a senior administration official said, speaking on background about the mission. “We obviously wish this had been successful.”
Officials declined to say exactly when the mission took place, saying only that it happened earlier this summer. They also would not provide the location of the mission, but noted that if it had taken place in or near a heavily populated area, it would likely to have been noticed before now.