CIA broadening drone strike operations in Africa: report

CIA broadening drone strike operations in Africa: report
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The CIA is broadening its drone strike operations in Africa, reversing an Obama-era decision to significantly scale back attacks, according to The New York Times.

The intelligence agency is reportedly moving aircraft to Niger in order to conduct drone strikes against al Qaeda and Islamic State fighters in Libya. 

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Nigerien and American officials told the Times that the CIA has been conducting surveillance missions with drones for several months, and will soon be using the drones in lethal missions. 

A CIA spokesman declined to comment for the report while a Defense Department spokeswoman, Maj. Sheryll Klinkel, insisted the military does not launch drone missions from the Dirkou airport, the alleged base of the recent surveillance missions.

Nigerien officials told the Times that the drones flying out from the airport are American. Satellite images indicate the airport has expanded in ways that indicate it is deploying small aircraft, the newspaper reported.

The Pentagon has carried out five drone strikes against Islamist militants in Libya this year. 

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Air Force outlines plan for biggest force since end of Cold War | Trump admin slashes refugee cap | Mattis accuses Russia of meddling in Macedonia's NATO bid Hillicon Valley: Elon Musk sued by diver from Thai cave rescue | Researchers find new malware family | FEMA delays new presidential alert test Trump administration to cut refugee admissions to 30K for 2019 MORE reportedly told Trump that Obama's strategy of cutting back the number of drone strikes conducted by the U.S. was curtailing the CIA's counterterrorism efforts. 

Under Trump, drone strike activity has spiked, the Times reported.