The United States is not ruling out sending troops into Gaza to rescue American hostages, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said on Wednesday.
Kirby briefed reporters on Wednesday alongside White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. He warned reporters that it was likely that the number of Americans killed by Hamas terrorists, as well as the number being held hostage, was likely to increase in the coming days.
“I think we all need to steel ourselves for the very distinct possibility that [the number of Americans killed by Hamas] will keep increasing and that we may, in fact, find out that more Americans are part of the hostage pool,” Kirby told reporters. He has said on several occasions in the last several days that the administration does not know exactly how many Americans might be hostages at the moment.
NBC News White House correspondent Peter Alexander pressed Kirby on the issue, asking whether the administration was prepared to potentially send U.S. forces into Gaza to get hostages out.
“I just want to ask you separately about these hostages right now. Presumably 22 dead, at least 17 held hostage. Not only the number of dead could rise —” Alexander began.
“Seventeen that we know are missing. Excuse me. And that number will fluctuate,” Kirby replied. “It could rise. It could go down. I mean, as people maybe they’re found safe and sound. So it’s 17 today.”
“So about those who remain hostages right now?” Alexander pressed again. “Has the president ruled out sending any American forces of any kind into Gaza at any time to help secure their release, if necessary, to get them out safely?”
“We haven’t made any policy options or operational decisions with respect to hostage recovery at this time,” Kirby said.
“So nothing’s ruled out,” Alexander assessed.
“We haven’t made any decisions about hostage recovery at this time,” Kirby said again, adding that the administration did not have enough information yet to make strategic decisions like that. “The president has said, we’ll do everything we can anywhere around the world to make sure that Americans held hostage, have a path home and to be safe with their families. So we’re — we’re keeping the — to Mary’s question, obviously, we’re casting a wide net. We’re also keeping the options wide open right now as we get more information. But we just don’t have enough granularity to be able to fine-tune those options.”