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The United States has officially started pulling out of Niger, with military equipment and personnel leaving over the weekend.

Flight tracking websites indicated US C-17 cargo aircraft heading to Niamey, Niger’s capital, on Friday, which subsequently left the next day.


The Pentagon, alongside Niger’s Ministry of National Defense, confirmed in a joint statement, “The withdrawal of US forces and assets from Niger has progressed from initial preparations to redeployment.” They added, “This significant transition began with the departure of a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III from Air Base 101 in Niamey on June 7, 2024.”

Last month, the Pentagon announced a complete withdrawal of US military assets from Niger by mid-September. This decision followed a coup in Niger last year, leading to the establishment of a military junta aligned with Russia. Nigerien Prime Minister Ali Lamine Zeine criticized the US presence, stating, “The Americans stayed on our soil, doing nothing while the terrorists killed people and burned towns. It is not a sign of friendship to come on our soil but let the terrorists attack us.”

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The withdrawal process, complicated by the need to remove sensitive equipment, was delayed due to the requirement for the ruling military junta’s approval of US military flights. According to various news outlets citing anonymous sources, The United States first priority was to remove sensitive equipment from Niger.

Previously, Niger served as a crucial base for US operations, including surveillance of extremist groups using MQ-9 Reaper drones and training Nigerien troops. However, the coup halted the training mission, straining US relations with the junta as the Biden administration pushed for democratic elections. As the US withdraws, Russian forces have begun operating from the same base, indicating the junta’s growing ties with the Kremlin.


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