The hostages included at least 20 Iraqi troops, some local residents, and some ISIS fighters accused of being spies. Kurdish militias participated in addition to Iraqi security forces, despite the fact that no Kurds were being held at the ISIS prison.
This is one of the few times that the U.S. has participated in ground combat since its withdrawal following the Iraq War, but its departure from a dogmatic limitation of U.S. involvement to airstrikes, training and logistical support. But, it was appropriate in this case.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters, in a statement that makes eminent good sense that:
This was a unique circumstance in which very close partners of the United States made a specific request for our assistance[.] . . . The Secretary assessed the situation on the ground, saw that U.S. forces could make a difference here, could perhaps make this operation more successful, and at the end of the day there are 70 people whose lives were saved as a result of this[.]This kind of incident also calls attention to the limits of sovereignty doctrines in situations such as the ISIS regime in which Iraq and Syria, the prior intentionally recognized sovereigns responsible for the territory now controlled by ISIS and other rebel groups, each do not control a large swath of their own officially recognized territory in fact.