Three Green Beret soldiers were killed Wednesday during a joint US-Nigerien patrol mission. US officials said the patrol, which was made up of eight to ten soldiers, was ambushed by 50 or more possible ISIS sympathizers. Two other Green Berets were injured in the incident but are reported to be in stable condition.
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The incident took place a little over 100 miles north of Niger’s capital Niamey, according to US officials. “It was a routine patrol in order to train the Nigerien forces,” the official clarified, “It was not a raid.”
CNN reported that French military Super Puma helicopters suppressed the enemy so that the patrol unit could load the deceased and injured on-board.
Nigerian security officials confirmed the death of five of their soldiers, and US defense officials indicate that an operation is underway to locate those responsible for the ambush.
Speculation as to whom is responsible for the attack has military officials focusing on ISIS-affiliated groups. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an ISIS-affiliated group, has been responsible for kidnapping and threatening US citizens in the past.
These groups have created extensive issues for the US government. So much so that the State Department issued a travel warning to Niger in April, according to Fox News. “Due to security concerns and travel restrictions, the U.S. Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in remote and rural areas is very limited,” the statement read.
The names of the three Green Beret soldiers who were killed are being withheld until next of kin is located and informed.
Press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said President Trump was informed of the incident by his Chief of Staff, John Kelly, but the president’s response was not disclosed.
According to the New York Times, a drone base costing an estimated $50 million is being built in Niger in an effort to running constant surveillance on suspected radical militants who commonly use Niger’s weak borders to smuggle weapons.