Pentagon: U.S. forces to leave Niger by mid-September

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The announcement dashes hopes of an agreement that would keep a longtime U.S. counterterrorism hub in Niger.

U.S. forces will withdraw from Niger by mid-September, officials from both nations announced Sunday, an outcome that the Pentagon had hoped to avoid through negotiations aimed at preserving its longtime counterterrorism operations in the West African country.

U.S. officials suggested in a call with reporters Sunday that close military-to-military relations could weather the rupture and that they could eventually restore an American security presence in Niger, which has served as an important hub in the fight against the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and other militant groups in the region.

However, with few details about the exit or day-after plans, the officials acknowledged that for now the counterterrorism apparatus was in limbo and the future of a partnership with Niger uncertain.

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“We’re going to be focused for the near term of the drawdown of U.S. forces and expect some way through that process we’ll start to have conversations about what comes next,” said a senior defense official, speaking on background per government protocol.

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