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2014 American rescue mission in Syria

The 2014 American rescue mission in Syria was carried out in order to rescue two dozen foreign hostages, two of whom were journalists, who were being held by the Islamic State. Though no soldiers were killed, the mission failed to locate and rescue the hostages.[3]

2014 American rescue mission in Syria
Part of the Syrian Civil War and
the Military intervention against ISIL
Date4 July 2014 (2014-07-04)
Uqayrishah, near Raqqa, Syria
Result Operation failed

 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Commanders and leaders
United States Barack Obama

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Caliph)
Abu Ali al-Anbari (Deputy, Syria)

Abu Omar al-Shishani (Field commander in Syria)
Units involved
1st SFOD-D[1] Unknown
Two dozen special forces operators[1] Unknown
Casualties and losses
1 U.S. soldier wounded[1]
1 Jordanian soldier wounded (unconfirmed)[1]
5–8 militants killed[1][2]


On July 4, 2014, shortly after midnight, U.S. air strikes were conducted against an ISIS military base camp known as the "Osama bin Laden Camp".[4] At the same time, two dozen special operations members parachuted from helicopters near an Islamic State (IS) building in search for high-valued prisoners. After landing on the ground, the soldiers blocked the main road towards Raqqa and ambushed the prison. However, no prisoners were found in the building. They then conducted house-to-house searches in Uqayrishah. At this time, IS forces from Raqqa started to arrive and a three-hour firefight ensued.[1] During the fighting, militants also directed RPG fire at U.S. aircraft, but missed.[5] U.S. forces then recognized that the hostages were no longer at the site and abandoned the rescue attempt. It is estimated that between five and eight IS militants were killed.[1][2] Later, it was reported the hostages had been relocated 24 hours before the attempted rescue.[1] It remained unclear whether the operation failed due to incorrect intelligence or if IS forces had been alerted in advance of the mission.[6]


More than a month after the operation, an American journalist, James Foley, was executed.[1] In the following weeks and months, American journalist, Steven Sotloff,[7] and aid worker, Peter Kassig,[8] as well as British aid workers David Haines[9] and Alan Henning, were all executed.[10] IS held British journalist John Cantlie, who they used for ransom purposes.[11] This was considered to be a “flawless operation” by the Defense Secretary at the time even though they failed to extract the hostages.

A Defense Department official commented on the failure of this mission that, "We're not sure why they were moved... By the time we got there, it was too late... a matter of hours, perhaps a day or two." since the American hostages were moved from their initial location. Defense officials were openly frustrated with the transparency of the administration regarding information of this mission. The National Security Council spokeswoman expressed that they had, "Never intended to disclose this operation". This issue is extremely concerning and was taken into consideration when President Obama reiterated to Member States at the Security Council that, "foreign fighters were likely to return to their home countries to carry out attacks." Research found that these extremists are returning to their homeland twenty to thirty percent of the time. [12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ruth Sherlock and Carol Malouf in Erbil and Josie Ensor (21 August 2014). "The failed US mission to try and rescue James Foley from Islamic State terrorists". London. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b My Journey Inside the Islamic State
  3. ^ Szoldra, Paul. "The Operation To Rescue American Hostages In Syrya Was Much Larger Than We Realized". Business Insider.
  4. ^ Gunter, Joel (2014-08-21). "US journalist James Foley beheaded by Isil". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2019-02-27.
  5. ^ "U.S. belatedly reports rescue operation for U.S. hostages in Syria". World Tribune. Archived from the original on 2015-01-28. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Rising danger prompted U.S. effort to rescue James Foley, other hostages". 20 August 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  7. ^ Chorley, Matt; McTague, Tom (2 September 2014). "British hostage whose life is threatened in latest IS execution video was subject of failed rescue attempt by US special forces". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  8. ^ Hjelmgaard, Kim (November 16, 2014). "U.S. review of Islamic State video confirms American's death". USA Today. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
  9. ^ "Islamic State says it executed British aid worker". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  10. ^ ABC News. "Video: Islamic State Group Beheads British Hostage". ABC News. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Isis video shows British hostage delivering propaganda message". the Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  12. ^