Baghdad: The US Special Forces along with Kurdish troops rescued nearly 70 hostages facing imminent mass execution, from an Islamic state (ISIS) jail in northern Iraq, said official.
The operation on Thursday also led to the first American combat death in Iraq since 2011.
The pre-dawn raid targeted a school near the northern town of Hawija that was believed to have been used as a base by senior military commanders from the group. There were unconfirmed reports that one of Isis’s most senior leaders, Nema Arbid Nayef al-Jabouri, was one of the targets of the raid.
Jabouri, also known as Abu Fatima was not present when US and Kurdish troops descended on the small village of Fedeekha east of the town, Iraqi officials said.
But commandos freed dozens of Arab Iraqis who were being held prisoner at the school, including members of the Iraqi security forces, local residents and Isis fighters held as suspected spies.
The US government said the operation had been planned and launched at the urging of Kurdish officials after they received reports that the hostages “faced imminent mass execution”.
The Pentagon forcefully defended US involvement in the mission amid questions of whether it violated the administration’s policy of “no boots on the ground”.
Spokesman Peter Cook told reporters initial debriefs showed people had recently been killed at the compound and that lives of the hostages were facing death “in a matter of hours”.
Source: The Guardian