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French soldiers have commenced their withdrawal from Niger, escorted by the country’s military towards Chad. This move on Tuesday is in response to demands from Niger’s military leadership that assumed power in July.
The military’s statement indicated that the withdrawal involves moving “some of the 1,500 French soldiers” by road through potentially unsafe regions. As this withdrawal continues, the airport in Niamey has scheduled “three special flights” dedicated to the exit of “97 special forces elements” and logistic requirements.
This comes after French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed these forces’ planned departure. Out of these, around 1,000 were based in Niamey, while 400 were positioned near Mali and Burkina Faso, a zone known for its insurgent activities. Niger’s military guarantees that this phased pull-out will be conducted safely, based on a “timetable agreed to by both parties.”
In similar developments, the United States announced the official suspension of aid to Niger following the recognition of a military coup that ousted its democratically-elected president. While aid has been withheld, the US has not indicated any adjustments to its military presence in Niger.
Currently, the US maintains approximately 1,000 military personnel in Niger, focusing on counterterrorism training and drone operations targeting extremist factions. US Department of Defense spokesperson, Matthew Miller, emphasized that the resumption of US aid hinges on Niger’s swift and credible transition to democratic governance.