02:22 GMT07 May 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US military launched on Friday a counterterrorism operation from a recently constructed air base in Niger, which was described as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission in a press release by US Africa Command (AFRICOM).

    "In support of our partner forces and international efforts to counter violent extremist organizations in the region, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations have begun out of Nigerien Air Base 201, Agadez, Niger", the release said.

    US Army General Stephen Townsend, the local AFRICOM commander, said American forces were present at the request of the Nigerien government.

    "We are working with our African and international partners to counter security threats in West Africa", Townsend said. "The construction of this base demonstrates our investment in our African partners and mutual security interests in the region".

    AFRICOM said in the release that it has an agreement with the government of Niger for use of armed and unarmed air assets in its airspace to respond to terrorist threats.

    The base features a joint-use runway that is suitable for both US and Nigerien aircraft, the release said.

    Islamists have stepped up attacks in Niger in retaliation for the nation’s participation in a French-led operation targeting the Boko Haram terrorist group in neighboring Mali, according to media reports.

    Boko Haram, Niger, US Africa Command (AFRICOM), military operation
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