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West Africa: U.S. Resumes Drone Operations in Niger

Harare — The U.S. resumed flying drones and other aircraft out of Niger’s air bases, according to the commander of the Air Forces in Europe and Africa, Al Jazeera reports.

This comes more than a month after a coup put an end to the operations of more than a thousand U.S. forces stationed in the West African nation. Since the July coup, the officers were restricted to their military outposts. General James Hecker said said tthe move was a consequence of talks with the military leadership of Niger.

Niger is a key regional outpost for the U.S. military’s drone patrols and other operations against militants and rebel groupings who have taken land in the area, killed civilians, and engaged in armed conflict.

More than 1,800 rebel attacks were reported in West Africa in the first half of this year, resulting in close to 4,600 fatalities, according to the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

Around 1,500 soldiers from former colonial power France are still stationed in the country. Officials in Paris have dubbed the coup and its officials as illegitimate and declared their continuous support for the ousted president NAME.

Earlier this month, the military government in Niger, accused France of stationing troops in various West African countries in preparation for “military intervention”. Niger, a Sahel state now led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani, is also at odds with Ecowas, which had threatened military action to reinstate Bazoum as president.

The military administrations of Burkina Faso and Mali also issued warnings that any military action against Niger’s military leaders will be viewed as a “declaration of war” against their countries.

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