According to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, transferred its captives, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, just 72 hours before U.S Delta Forces landed at an eastern Syrian prison to rescue them.
The report states that the rescue attempt failed due to insufficient and flawed intelligence as well as the fact that ISIS may have been tipped off by an Islamic country in the region which affiliates itself with the Islamic State.
It was July 3 when a few dozen Delta force troops gathered at an oil storage facility in eastern Syria, near the city of Raqaa. The operation was launched that night because of the exceptionally weak moonlight.
The soldiers had trained for weeks back home for the rescue operation which was modelled on the successful mission to find and kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.
The plan was to find the prison, neutralize the guards and rescue the hostages who had been held there for several months. The plan was presented toPresident Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on July 1.
But instead of the plan going ahead as slated, the Delta forces scanned the entire compound but only found evidence of the captives’ presence. The US troops were forced to leave empty-handed after about an hour.
The report claims that the Pentagon asked the White House to authorize surveillance flights above Syria before the operation, but that launching UAVs above their heads increased the likelihood that the ISIS militants would be tipped off to the rescue attempt.
With the captives’ lives hanging in the balance Obama needed to make a decision based in the intelligence he had as to how the Delta forces should proceed.
Following the brutal beheading of American journalist James Foley in Syria the failed operation was exposed. Subsequently, Obama authorized the use of UAVs and U2 surveillance planes above Syria in order to gain vital intelligence on ISIS positions to open up the possibility for future attacks.