On October 4th, 2017, a joint patrol of American and Niger forces was ambushed by around 50 extremist militants with possible links to ISIS, 120 miles north of Niamey, the capital of Niger—Four American Green Berets and five Nigerien soldiers were killed.
President Donald Trump was notified of the attack by White House chief of staff John Kelly on the same day.
A never before released White House statement on the ambush has reportedly been leaked to the news media. Here is the statement, via Politico:
“Melania and I are heartbroken at the news that three U.S. service members were killed in Niger on October 4 while providing guidance and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terror operations. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these brave American soldiers and patriots. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers.
We are also praying for the two U.S. service members who were injured in the incident. We wish them a complete and swift recovery.
The heroic Americans who lost their lives yesterday did so defending our freedom and fighting violent extremism in Niger. Our administration and our entire nation are deeply grateful for their sacrifice, for their service, and for their patriotism.”
The draft statement was circulated among the Defense Department but was not released—for unknown reasons, the report said.
The US has approximately 1000 troops in the area where the attack occurred; while most are deployed in Niger, some are also present in Chad, Nigeria and the Central African Republic. Americans mostly provide training and support in intelligence and surveillance to Niger’s army.
According to Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, American troops had conducted 29 patrols in the area in the prior six months and did not encounter any difficulties before the ambush.
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