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US repositioning troops and military equipment within Niger as non-essential personnel leave, official says

By Oren Liebermann, CNN

(CNN) — The US is repositioning some troops and military equipment within Niger and removing some non-essential personnel from the country six weeks after a military coup toppled the democratically elected government, according to a US military official.

The troops will move from the Air Base 101 near Niamey, the Nigerien capital, to Air Base 201 in Agadez, a facility in central Niger from which the US conducts intelligence and reconnaissance missions, the official said. Those missions have been suspended since the coup occurred, but the US has maintained its military footprint in the central African nation until now.

The move was done “out of an abundance of caution,” the official said, and it does not represent a significant change in the overall numbers of military personnel within the country. The US has about 1,100 troops stationed at the two air bases and the embassy in Niamey.

The US military official declined to say how many non-essential personnel would be leaving Niger.

Reuters first reported the repositioning of US troops.

The move of troops and military equipment between the two bases – more than 450 miles apart – was done in coordination with the Nigerien military, the official said. The US has conducted extensive training and exercises with the Nigerien military in the past, but that cooperation has been suspended since the coup.

The Biden administration has not designated the toppling of the democratically elected Nigerien government as a coup, instead pushing for a diplomatic resolution.

“As far as Niger goes, I don’t have any new announcements to make,” said Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder at a news briefing Tuesday. “Again, we remain focused on a diplomatic solution.”

Niger serves as a critical base in the region for the US military, allowing the Defense Department to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions in neighboring trouble spots like Mali and Burkina Faso.

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