ISIS was driven from Dabiq in the last several days
But there are still many dangers, including mines, booby-traps and IEDs
US military officials have received a tip that the remains of one or more American hostages killed by an ISIS operative known as “Jihadi John” may be buried in Dabiq, Syria, CNN has learned.
Military officials are now weighing whether it is possible to send American personnel to Dabiq to investigate further.
Since some areas of northern Syria have been liberated from ISIS, and there are US Special Operations Forces in the area, it opens the door to potentially finding the remains of Americans killed in Syria.
US officials would not specify where the tip about Dabiq came from. But several defense officials have confirmed to CNN that they are looking at an initial intelligence report that suggests some US remains may be buried in that area.
Military officials are strongly emphasizing nothing is yet confirmed.
“We have some scraps of information that make us want to find out more,” one official told CNN.
There seem to be several gravesites in the area that could be investigated. But some are reportedly mass graves, which may make it very difficult to determine which remains, if any, are actually American, the officials said.
They also noted the sensitivities for the families of the victims, because it’s not clear if the tip will pan out.
ISIS was driven from Dabiq in the last several days, for the first time making it feasible to send a US team to the city.
But there are still many dangers, including mines, booby-traps and improvised explosive devices left behind by ISIS.
Dabiq, in northwest Syria, is about six miles south of the Turkish border and now loosely held by the moderate Syrian opposition. It’s considered by some Islamic prophecies to be the site of an apocalyptic battle between Christians and Muslims, and its reclamation represented a major loss to ISIS.
Jihadi John was one of the early English-speaking voices of the group. A Kuwaiti-born man with a British accent named Mohammed Emwazi, he was killed in a US airstrike in Raqqa, Syria, in late 2015.
It’s not verified when Emwazi might have been in Dabiq. He was first widely seen in August 2014 in a video posted online that showed him with a knife threatening US journalist James Foley. The video ends by showing Foley’s decapitated body.
Emwazi also is believed to have played a role in the beheadings of American journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines, British volunteer Alan Henning, US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto.