2014 American rescue mission in Syria

2014 American rescue mission in Syria
Part of the Syrian Civil War and
the Military intervention against ISIL
Date4 July 2014 (2014-07-04)
LocationUqayrishah, near Ar-Raqqah, 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]
At least 5 militants killed[1]

The 2014 American rescue mission in Syria was a mission to rescue two dozen foreigners, including two American journalists,[2] held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) during the Syrian Civil War, U.S. forces launched an operation in an attempt to rescue them.[1][3]


On 4 July 2014, after midnight, U.S. air strikes were conducted against the ISIL military base known as the "Osama bin Laden Camp". At the same time, two dozen special operations members parachuted from helicopters near an ISIL building for high-valued prisoners. After landing on the ground, the soldiers blocked the main road towards Ar-Raqqah and assaulted the prison. However, no prisoners were found in the building. They then conducted house-to-house searches in Uqayrishah. At this time, ISIL forces from Ar-Raqqah started to arrive and a three-hour firefight ensued.[1] During the fighting, militants also directed RPG fire at U.S. aircraft, but missed.[4] Eventually, U.S. forces came to the conclusion that the hostages were no longer at the site and abandoned the rescue attempt. At least 5 ISIL militants were killed (other source: 8 IS members killed, including trainee leaders from Tunisia and Saudi Arabia[5]) and a U.S soldier was wounded. Jordanian forces were also reportedly involved in the operation with one Jordanian soldier also wounded, but this was not confirmed.[5] Later, it was reported the hostages had been moved 24 hours before the attempted rescue.[1] It remained unclear whether the operation failed due to incorrect intelligence or if ISIL forces had been alerted in advance of the mission.[6]


For more details on this topic, see ISIL beheading incidents.

Over a month after the operation, the 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[2] and Alan Henning, were all executed.[9] ISIL also held British journalist John Cantlie, who they used for propaganda purposes.[10]

The story of the raid was broken by Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group of citizen journalists exposing ISIL atrocities.[11] The disclosure of the failed hostage rescue attempt of James Foley and Steven Joel Sotloff has been criticized by Congressman Buck McKeon, among others, claiming that carrying out similar U.S. military operations in the future would face greater risk. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that the operation was disclosed by the White House after consultation with the Pentagon and because news media were already preparing to leak the story.[12]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 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". Telegraph.co.uk. London. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  2. 1 2 "Islamic State says it executed British aid worker". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  3. "Official: U.S. attempt to rescue James Foley, others in Syria failed". CNN. 20 August 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  4. "U.S. belatedly reports rescue operation for U.S. hostages in Syria". World Tribune. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  5. 1 2 https://news.vice.com/article/my-journey-inside-the-islamic-state
  6. "Rising danger prompted U.S. effort to rescue James Foley, other hostages". latimes.com. 20 August 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  7. Chorley, Matt; McTague, Tom (2 September 2014). "British hostage whose life is threatened in latest ISIS 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. ABC News. "Video: Islamic State Group Beheads British Hostage". ABC News. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  10. "Isis video shows British hostage delivering propaganda message". the Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  11. https://www.cpj.org/awards/2015/raqqa-is-being-slaughtered-silently-syria.php
  12. Nissenbaum, Dion. "Disclosure of Failed Attempt to Rescue James Foley Is Criticized". The Wall Street Journal.
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