CIA to step up drone strikes curtailed by Obama in Africa under Trump

September 10, 2018
| Report Focus News
INDIAN SPRINGS, NV - NOVEMBER 17: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by the U.S. Military prior to transmission.) An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) flies by during a training mission at Creech Air Force Base on November 17, 2015 in Indian Springs, Nevada. The Pentagon has plans to expand combat air patrols flights by remotely piloted aircraft by as much as 50 percent over the next few years to meet an increased need for surveillance, reconnaissance and lethal airstrikes in more areas around the world. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)

The CIA is set to carry out secret drone strikes against al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) militants from a newly expanded air base in the Sahara, The New York Times reports.

Barack Obama had sought to put the military in charge of drone attacks towards the latter part of his presidency following a backlash over a series of strikes, some of which led to the deaths of civilians.

But under the Donald Trump administration, the CIA is now moving aircraft to north-eastern Niger to target Islamist militants in southern Libya, signalling an expansion of its drone operations, The New York Times reports.

The newspaper quotes unnamed US and Nigerien officials as saying the CIA had been flying drones on surveillance missions for several months from a corner of a small commercial airport in Dirkou town in north-eastern Niger.

The drones would almost certainly be used in lethal missions in the near future, because of the growing threat posed by militants in southern Libya, a US official told the newspaper.