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US troops will complete withdrawal from Niger by mid-September, Pentagon says

5/18: CBS Weekend News

8:52 p.m.

American troops expelled from Niger The ruling junta in this West African country will complete its withdrawal by mid-September, Pentagon and Nigerien defense officials announced on Sunday.

This schedule is the result of four days of negotiations between defense officials from the two countries in the capital Niamey, according to a joint press release.

Niger’s decision to expel U.S. forces dealt a blow to U.S. military operations in the Sahel, a vast region south of the Sahara Desert where groups linked to Al-Qaida and the Islamic State group operate.

Protesters hold a sign demanding that U.S. troops immediately leave Niger during a demonstration in Niamey, Niger, April 13, 2024.

AFP via Getty

The breakdown in military cooperation follows last July’s ouster of the country’s democratically elected president by mutinous soldiers. A few months later, the ruling junta asked French forces to leave and turned to the Russian mercenary group Wagner for security assistance.

In October, Washington officially declared the military takeover a coup, triggering U.S. laws restricting the military support and aid it can provide to Niger.

About 1,000 U.S. troops remain in Niger, most at an air base near Agadez, about 920 kilometers from the capital.

Until recently, Washington considered Niger a key partner and ally in a region swept by coups in recent years, investing millions of dollars in the Agadez base, key to US counterterrorism operations in the Sahel. The United States has also invested hundreds of millions of dollars in training Niger’s military since it began operations there in 2013.

The Pentagon said the United States would move most of the roughly 100 forces it has deployed to neighboring Chad for now. But negotiations should resume next month on the revision of an agreement authorizing the deployment of American troops in Chad.


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