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US troops leave Niger base at Niamey


Niamey, Niger — U.S. troops have completed a withdrawal from their base in Niger’s capital of Niamey and will fully depart from Agadez in the north before a Sept. 15 deadline set by the country’s military rulers, both countries said Sunday.

Niger’s military leaders scrapped a military cooperation deal with Washington in March, after seizing power in a July 2023 coup.

The United States had around 650 soldiers in Niger as part of anti-jihadist missions in several Sahel nations of West Africa, including a major drone base near Agadez.

“The defense ministry of Niger and the U.S. Defense Department announce that the withdrawal of American forces and equipment from the Niamey base 101 is now completed,” the two countries said in a statement.

A final flight carrying U.S. troops was due to leave Niamey late Sunday.

The U.S. presence had stood at around 950 troops, and 766 soldiers have left Niger since the military ordered their departure, AFP learned at a ceremony at the base attended by Niger’s army chief of staff Maman Sani Kiaou and US General Kenneth Ekman.

“American forces are now going to focus on quitting airbase 201 in Agadez,” the statement said, insisting that the withdrawal would be completed by September 15 as planned.

Niger had already ordered the withdrawal of troops from France, the former colonial power and traditional security ally, and has strengthened ties with Russia which has provided instructors and equipment.

On Saturday, Germany’s defense ministry also said it would end operations at its airbase in Niger by August 31 following the breakdown of talks with military leaders.

A similar shift has taken place in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, which are also ruled by military leaders and faced with violence from jihadist groups.