WASHINGTON – President Obama said Sunday that U.S. forces assisted in a failed attempt to rescue a French citizen in Somalia on Friday.
Obama said the U.S. military provided limited technical support to French forces leading the operation, but the Americans had no direct role in the assault on the al-Shabab compound.
Obama disclosed the U.S. role Sunday in a letter alerting Congress about the deployment of U.S. forces.
Obama said U.S. combat aircraft briefly entered Somali airspace to support the rescue operation, if needed, but did not employ their weapons during the operation. The president said he directed U.S. forces to support the French rescue operation in furtherance of U.S. national security interests.
The raid to free a French intelligence agent held captive in Somalia for three years left 17 Islamists and at least one French commando dead
French officials and a Somali intelligence official said the agent, known by his code-name Denis Allex, was almost certainly killed by his captors.
The intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the press, said Sunday that the home where the agent was held was destroyed in the attack Saturday and that intelligence networks do not have any information indicating he is still alive.