President Obama: U.S. Assisted in Failed Rescue of Frenchman in Somalia Friday

In this undated file image from a video posted on Islamic militant websites and made available Wednesday June 9 2010, a man identified as French security agent Denis Allex pleads for his release from the Somali militant group al-Shabaab. (Photo: AP)

(TheBlaze/AP) — President Barack Obama said Sunday that U.S. forces assisted in a failed attempt to rescue a French citizen in Somalia on Friday.

The president says U.S. forces provided limited technical support to French forces leading the operation, and that America had no direct role in the assault on the compound where a French intelligence agent was believed to be held hostage.

United States combat aircraft ​did “briefly [enter] Somali airspace” to provide support “if needed.”  However, the letter adds that “these aircraft did not employ weapons during the operation.”

French officials say the hostage is almost certainly dead after a French commando was also killed in the rescue attempt.

President Obama disclosed the U.S. role Sunday in a letter alerting Congress about the deployment of U.S. forces.

Here is the complete letter, via the Office of the Press Secretary:

(Photo via the Office of the Press Secretary)

According to the Wall Street Journal, the hostage had been held for more than three years in Somalia by the Qaeda-allied insurgent group al-Shabaab.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian added Sunday that the man was chained up, abused and moved from one safe house to another until authorities decided to stage a rescue attempt roughly one month ago.

“Extremely violent fights took place, during which everything leads us to think that [the hostage] Mr. Allex was shot dead by his kidnappers,” Mr. Le Drian related during a press conference.

The Agence France-Presse has more: