C.I.A. begins secret deployment of armed drones against terrorists in Africa -Report
London, September 10, 2018 (AltAfrica)-The The CIA is reportedly expanding its armed drone programme in Africa and will start using a military base in the Nigerien desert to carry out raids on areas where ISIL and al-Qaeda are believed to operate.
The New York Times reported that a secret military base in Dirkou, about 250km south of the Libyan border, will soon begin deploying armed drones in an apparent loosening of Obama-era limits on US raids outside conventional war zones.
Late in his presidency, Barack Obama sought to put the military in charge of drone attacks after a backlash arose over a series of highly visible strikes, some of which killed civilians. The move was intended, in part, to bring greater transparency to attacks that the United States often refused to acknowledge its role in.
But now the C.I.A. is broadening its drone operations, moving aircraft to northeastern Niger to hunt Islamist militants in southern Libya. The expansion adds to the agency’s limited covert missions in eastern Afghanistan for strikes in Pakistan, and in southern Saudi Arabia for attacks in Yemen.
Nigerien and American officials said the C.I.A. had been flying drones on surveillance missions for several months from a corner of a small commercial airport in Dirkou. Satellite imagery shows that the airport has grown significantly since February to include a new taxiway, walls and security posts.
One American official said the drones had not yet been used in lethal missions, but would almost certainly be in the near future, given the growing threat in southern Libya. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secretive operations.
A C.I.A. spokesman, Timothy Barrett, declined to comment. A Defense Department spokeswoman, Maj. Sheryll Klinkel, said the military had maintained a base at the Dirkou airfield for several months but did not fly drone missions from there
SOURCES: New York Times