US Special Forces reportedly carried out a failed rescue mission in Raqqa to save the captured Jordanian pilot held prisoner by Islamic State (ISIS) militants.
The operation is believed to have taken place on 1 January. US Special Forces were attempting to rescue Muadh al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian pilot who ended up in the hands of ISIS after his F-16 crashed in Raqqa on 24 December. The operation failed after US forces came under heavy fire from the ISIS.
The rescue mission was confirmed by local activists,who claimed that on the day of the operation, the coalition carried out over 13 airstrikes in Raqqa to help the Special ops team.
Abu Ibrahim al-Raquaoui, the administrator for the underground anti-ISIS online campaign Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, confirmed that five coalition aircraft hovered at low altitude over the city,while the coalition airstrikes around the city destroyed several ISIS buildings.
During this time, two helicopter gunships attempted to deploy special forces on ground to rescue the hostages, but had to beat a hasty retreat after they came under heavy fire from ISIS militants in the Rumelia area, northeast Raqqa, al Raquaoui reported on his Twitter handle.
For the coalition forces, rescuing the pilot has become a prime objective, as Jordan has halted its involvement in the war against ISIS since his capture.
Jordanian MP Rula al-Hroob told local dailies that the country is no longer conducting airstrikes. Al-Hroob, however, insisted that the move was not a "permanent decision."
Recently the Jordanian pilot was featured in an ISIS propaganda magazine "Dabiq", in which ISIS interviewed him. The 26-year old pilot was shown wearing an orange jumpsuit and was quoted as saying in the interview that he was aware of the fact that ISIS was going to kill him.