US to withdraw troops from Niger, Pentagon press secretary says

The United States says it plans to withdraw its troops from the West African country of Niger where a military coup occurred last year.

The US has deployed about 1,100 troops in Niger as part of counterterrorism measures in the Sahel region, south of the Sahara Desert.

The forces have been tasked with monitoring activities of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.

US Defense Department Press Secretary Pat Ryder told reporters on Monday that the US and Niger began discussions for the orderly withdrawal of US forces from the West African country.

Without mentioning the timing of the departure, Ryder said that the US will continue to explore options and how it can ensure that it is able to continue to address potential terrorist threats.

A unit of the Niger military removed President Mohamed Bazoum from power in a coup in July of last year, and formed a military government.

The country's relations with Western nations have since worsened while it has sought stronger ties with Russia.

The US withdrawal plan follows France's decision last year to pull its forces out of Niger.

Observers say that Russia will further increase its influence in the country.