WASHINGTON -- The White House intended to keep its attempted rescue mission in Syria of hostages held captive by the Islamic State secret, one spokesman said on Wednesday night. Only when details of the operation were leaked by administration officials did the White House decide to comment.

“We never intended to disclose this operation," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said, responding to multiple media requests. "An overriding concern for the safety of the hostages and for operational security made it imperative that we preserve as much secrecy as possible.

"We only went public today when it was clear a number of media outlets were preparing to report on the operation and that we would have no choice but to acknowledge it," Hayden continued.

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