US SpecOps Raid against ISIS Results In One Friendly KIA, 70 Freed Hostages
Major news outlets are reporting that US Special Operations forces in Iraq, in support of Kurdish commandos, attacked an ISIS prison complex overnight, killing ten militants and freeing around 70 hostages, many of which were reported chained to the walls of their prison. After the raid, military officials claimed that the raid was executed after Special Operations forces received word that that the hostages were about to be murdered, and that “a mass atrocity was averted” by the operation.
Right now, details about the raid against ISIS, including the specific unit that carried it out and descriptions of the freed hostages, are sparse. However, a night raid to rescue hostages is a hallmark of units like the Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s SEAL Team 6. Other units, including Special Forces and Army Rangers, also have robust direct action capabilities and are also known to operate in the region.
While we do not have details about who was rescued, ISIS has a history of holding young women as sex slaves, and of kidnapping, torturing, and murdering religious minorities in the region, including Christians and Yazidis. It is likely that those rescued were either Kurdish or Yazidi civilians, probably women.
In addition to rescuing the hostages, the raid sent a message to ISIS: “America is not afraid to come after you where you live.” In light of the turbulence in the area and the general hesitancy of the American response to ISIS, that is likely to be a reassuring message to our allies in the area.
While the raid was a tactical success, it did result in the loss of life of at least one Special Operations team member. We have no details about the American KIA, and would not release them if we did. We will simply offer our humble condolences to the family and to the surviving team members.
UPDATE: The prisoners were a mix of Sunni Arab civilians, Kurds, and former members of ISIS being held for an assortment of offenses committed against the Islamic State. There were no female prisoners. The Delta operator killed on the objective has been identified as Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler.