The Raid that Rescued Hostages and Killed an American Soldier (videos)

By Faye Higbee

A joint operation between U.S. Special Forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga rescued 70 hostages from an ISIS prison in Hawija, Iraq. The plan was reportedly for U.S. Special Forces operatives to hang back as Peshmerga fighters entered the prison. But the U.S. fighters were drawn into the battle that killed 39 year old Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler.

rescued hostages

Screenshot from Kurdish video showing the raid on an ISIS compound

Initial confusion

Initial news reports were so confused that some news media couldn’t decide whether the hostages were Kurdish Peshmerga or Iraqi forces. A clearer picture is now available, and some of it is on video from a helmet cam. According to intelligence reports, ISIS was on the verge of executing all 70 of the hostages.

The Washington Post wrote,

 A line of panicked men in traditional ankle-length garments are seen running past the camera, some with their hands up, as Arabic-speaking men scream at them, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” Gunfire rings out non-stop in the background. The soldiers as seen walking through a dark room with the Islamic State group’s trademark black flag draped on the wall. The rescued hostages are then frisked for weapons and led away.

Officials later said about 20 of the rescued hostages were members of Iraqi security forces…

U.S. officials said the plan for the rescue mission had called for the U.S. troops, who are members of the elite and secretive Delta Force, to stay back from the prison compound and let the Kurds do the fighting. 

The small fighting force was transported to the ISIS prison by helicopters. According to the note on the You Tube video by OzuYasujiro, 3 Chinooks and 3 Black Hawks took part in the raid.  A “heavy battle”  broke out between the Peshmerga and ISIS, so the U.S. Forces intervened.

Intervening on behalf of others

Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler died in the fight. Three Peshmerga were wounded, and at least 40 ISIS were killed. It is unclear exactly when or how the Master Sergeant was killed. But the fact that he and his brothers in arms saw the need to intervene for the Peshmerga is important to note. He is the first American soldier to die in ground fighting against ISIS in “Operation Inherent Resolve.”


Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler


Screenshot 2015-10-25 11.52.53

Master Sergeant Wheeler comes home – screenshot

Two videos have been released, reportedly by Kurdish Military Officials: