The American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is preparing to carry out secret drone attacks against militants in Libya, a leading U.S. newspaper reports.
This is in addition to the strikes expected to be launched by the U.S. military against Sahel militants from new facilities being built by the U.S. Air Force in Agadez in central Niger.
The New York Times reports today that the CIA is moving aircraft to Dirkou in north-eastern Niger, where satellite images show that an airbase is being expanded.
It quoted an unidentified American official as saying that drones from Dirkou will "almost certainly" be used to attack Qaeda and Islamic State insurgents in southern Libya in view of what the newspaper characterises as a "growing threat".
The paper reported that the CIA has already been flying drones from Dirkou on surveillance missions. It focussed much of its report on what it said was a change in tactics by the Trump administration - whereas President Barack Obama transferred drone operations to the military after controversial attacks in which civilians were killed, the CIA is again broadening operations under President Trump.