(CNN) – Dozens of U.S. Special Forces descended through the darkness, onto an abandoned oil refinery in an ISIS stronghold in north Syria.
Administration officials tell us the group of soldiers and Navy SEALs made their way into a building where they believed hostages were being held. One American commando was wounded in the fighting that followed, and several ISIS militants were killed.
The operation, from start to finish, lasted two hours.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, “It’s the responsibility of our government and our leaders to do all we can to take action when we believe there might be a good possibility, a good chance to – to make a rescue effort successful. This operation, by the way, was a flawless operation.”
Hagel says the White House decided to speak publicly about the covert mission only after details were leaked to media outlets.
Hagel also addressed the growing threat posed by ISIS, saying, “They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. Oh, this is beyond anything that we’ve seen.”
The Pentagon is now renewing its pledge to continue supporting Iraqi defense forces. The latest round of airstrikes delivered a blow to ISIS elements inside Iraq, with more likely to follow.