Obama honors member of special forces killed in rescue operation

President Obama on Sunday honored a member of a U.S. special forces unit killed in an operation to free a Taliban-held American citizen in Afghanistan.

In a statement released by the White House, Obama praised the special-forces operators and said their mission was “characteristic of the extraordinary courage, skill and patriotism that our troops show every day.”

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“Tragically, we lost one of our special operators in this effort. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, just as we must always honor our troops and military families,” the president continued. 

“He gave his life for his fellow Americans, and he and his teammates remind us once more of the selfless service that allows our nation to stay strong, safe and free.”

The White House did not identify the operator killed in the mission.

In a separate statement, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta also praised the lost service member. 

“In this fallen hero, and all of our special operators, Americans see the highest ideals of citizenship, sacrifice and service upheld,” said Panetta.

On Saturday, Dr. Dilip Joseph, a U.S. citizen being held by Taliban forces, was freed after an operation in eastern Afghanistan. 

Reports said Joseph had been captured by insurgents in Kabul province last week.

Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said that the mission was ordered after intelligence showed Joseph to be in imminent danger. 

“Today’s mission exemplifies our unwavering commitment to defeating the Taliban,” said Allen in a statement Saturday revealing the operation. 

Joseph was working in Afghanistan for Morning Star Development, which reports said was a relief group helping to rebuild towns in the war-torn country. Joseph had been kidnapped with two of his co-workers, who were released after initial negotiations. 

Reports said Joseph would rejoin his family soon.

—Kyle Balluck contributed.