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French soldiers have begun withdrawing from their bases in Niger, with the first convoy of troops escorted out of the country by Niger’s military as it traveled in the direction of Chad. The withdrawal was demanded by Niger’s new ruling generals after they took power on July 26, with French President Emmanuel Macron confirming their departure at the end of September. Approximately 1,000 French troops were stationed in Niamey, with another 400 deployed at two forward bases in the northwest, near Mali and Burkina Faso, a hotbed of rebel activity.
The withdrawal of French forces was swiftly demanded by Niger’s new ruling generals after they took power on July 26, with French President Emmanuel Macron then confirming their departure at the end of September. The remaining French forces would continue to leave on a timetable agreed to by both parties.
The United States formally declared that Niger’s democratically-elected president was removed in a military coup, which resulted in officially suspending assistance to Niger. However, there are no plans to change the US troop presence in the country, senior administration officials said. The decision was made after it became clear the military government did not want to abide by constitutional guidelines to restore civilian and democratic rule. US Department of Defense spokesperson Matthew Miller said that $200 million in foreign assistance temporarily paused to Niger in August had now been officially suspended.
Despite the coup designation and aid suspension, the US has no plans to change its troop presence in the country. Over the past decade, US troops have trained Nigerien forces in counterterrorism and operated two military bases, including one that conducts drone missions against rebel fighters affiliated with ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda.