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News: World

Deaths of American soldiers in Niger likely avoidable: report

The Hill logo The Hill 12/9/2017 Julia Manchester
Deaths of American soldiers in Niger likely avoidable: report © Provided by The Hill Deaths of American soldiers in Niger likely avoidable: report

The deaths of eight soldiers, including four U.S. soldiers, in Niger in early October could have been prevented and were the result of an improperly executed mission to collect information on high-ranking Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, a new report claims.

Sources told BuzzFeed News that the deaths at the village of Tongo Tongo could have been avoided if the mission was better planned and that it is not known whether the calls were made by the soldiers or their commanders back at the base.

BuzzFeed said that it talked to a Nigerian general, a pair of senior military officials and an official from Nigeria's anti-terror unit for its report.

The Trump administration has faced increasing scrutiny over the operation.

The soldiers had entered a hotbed of militants, which was considered to be "red zone" that had been labeled out of bounds by the U.S., BuzzFeed noted, saying the soldiers lacked sufficient evidence at the time of the operation in which a series of "negligent" errors were made.

There had been 46 militant attacks in the area over the past year, however, the U.S. soldiers traveled in unarmored pickup trucks and were not heavily armed when they were ambushed by the militants outside of Tongo Tongo.

The ambush reportedly lasted for two hours and was only stopped when a French military aircraft flew over the scene.

Officials familiar with similar missions told BuzzFeed they were unsure if they operation should have taken place in the first place due to the delicacy of the situation.

The spokesperson for the Department of Defense did not comment on the findings of the report to BuzzFeed but cited the ongoing investigation into the matter.

"The investigation is exploring issues of policy, procedures, resources, doctrine, training, judgment, leadership, or valor central to this incident. The Department of Defense will always strive [to] ensure our forces are properly equipped and have the necessary capabilities to accomplish their mission and defeat any threat," the spokesperson said.

The mission, which resulted in the deaths of four U.S. soldiers, including U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson has been thrust into the spotlight due to questions over the preparedness of the troops and President Trump's response.


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