Report: Two hostage rescues fail in Syria

Two hostage rescue missions carried out last night in northern Syria by the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ended in failure, according to local reports. 

Coalition forces pounded Raqqa, an ISIS stronghold in Syria, with airstrikes Thursday night and, at the same time, tried to undertake two hostage rescue missions, according to Raqqa is Silently Being Slaughtered, an activist group opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad. 

ADVERTISEMENT
During the aerial bombardment, two helicopter gunships attempted to deploy coalition special operations forces on the ground to rescue the hostages in northeast Raqqa, but the aircraft came under heavy gunfire from ISIS, according to a report from International Business Times

A separate attempt by coalition aircraft to land was made in eastern Raqqa in the Alekershi, the International Business Times said. They were also met by gunfire and forced to take off, the activist group said. 

However, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said it could neither confirm nor deny the reports. 

"We have no information on that at this time," said coalition spokesman Gary Boucher.

The reported rescue attempts come after Jordanian pilot First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh was captured by ISIS last week after his F-16 fighter jet crashed near Raqqa. 

They also come in the wake of comments made earlier this week by a Jordanian official, who said the country would undertake a hostage rescue mission to save al-Kasasbeh. 

When asked on Tuesday by NPR whether Jordan was considering possibly staging a military rescue mission, Rula Al Hroob, a member of Jordan's Parliament said, "Of course. This might be one of the actions that is already, perhaps, they're being done on the ground right now." 

ISIS has previously beheaded three American hostages and two British hostages. Hroob said al-Kasasbeh's capture has emboldened some inside Jordan who oppose involvement in the war against ISIS, which risks unraveling the U.S.-led coalition. 

The U.S. military has pledged to support recovery efforts. If the reports of an attempted rescue are true, it would be the third recent high-profile U.S.-led hostage rescue mission that has failed. 

Attempts to rescue U.S. photojournalist Luke Somers from Yemen in November and December ended in his death, and a previous attempt near Raqqa to save U.S. and British hostages last July also failed, with the hostages being moved just hours before troops arrived.