US forces tried but failed to rescue reporter James Foley and other US hostages held in Syria by the Islamic State, officials and reports said Wednesday, a day after the group released a video showing the journalist's beheading.
US media, citing senior Obama administration officials, said Foley was among those US Special Operations commandos were trying to rescue.
"The United States attempted a rescue operation recently to free a number of American hostages held in Syria by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (IS)," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.
"This operation involved air and ground components and was focused on a particular captor network within ISIL. "Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location."
The White House said in a separate statement that the rescue attempt was authorised "earlier this summer."
It involved several dozen US commandos, one of whom was injured in a fierce firefight with IS militants, The Washington Post said, calling it the first known US ground operation in Syria since the country's descent into civil war.
The Post said that it was believed that Sotloff was also among the group being held that included Foley.