The United States military's Africa Command has confirmed that its forces began deploying armed drones in Niger earlier this year.
The West African country's government granted American forces permission in November 2017 to arm their drones - but neither side had previously confirmed their deployment.
"In coordination with the Government of Niger, US Africa Command has armed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft already in Niger to improve our combined ability to respond to threats and other security issues in the region. Armed ISR aircraft began flying in early 2018," Samantha Reho, spokeswoman for US Africa Command told The Associated Press on Monday.
The armed drones are currently deployed to Niger's Air Base 101 in the capital, Niamey. Reho said the effort was supported by Niger's government, describing it as part of the long-term strategic partnership between the two countries to counter armed groups in the region.