Obama: US aircraft part of French raid in Somalia, but no weapons fired

Defense official: U.S. contributed fighter jets, not drones, to French rescue attempt in Somalia

From White House:  On January 11, 2013, French forces conducted an operation in Somalia in which they attempted to rescue a French citizen being held hostage by al-Shabaab. United States forces provided limited technical support to the French forces in that operation, but took no direct part in the assault on the compound where it was believed the French citizen was being held hostage. United States combat aircraft briefly entered Somali airspace to support the rescue operation, if needed. These aircraft did not employ weapons during the operation. The U.S. forces that supported this operation left Somalia by approximately 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on January 11, 2013.


I directed U.S. forces to support this rescue operation in furtherance of U.S. national security interests, and pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.

I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.


Text of Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

From Craig Whitlock, Washington Post:  A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the operation, said the combat aircraft were based at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, a small country on Somalia’s northwestern border.

The U.S. military has based a growing number of armed Predator drones as well as F-15 fighter jets at Camp Lemonnier, which has grown into a key installation for secret counterterrorism operations in Somalia and Yemen. The defense official declined to identify the aircraft used in the rescue attempt but said they were fighter jets, not drones.

The White House said Obama was obligated under the War Powers Act to notify Congress within 48 hours of the operation because U.S. military aircraft entered another country in support of a combat mission.

It was unclear, however, why Obama felt compelled to reveal this particular operation when he has remained silent about other specific U.S. combat missions in Somalia. Spokesmen from the White House and the Pentagon declined to elaborate or answer questions Sunday night.  (photo: USAF)

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