The U.S. military on Friday published the names of the three Army Special Forces soldiers from 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) who were killed when their reconnaissance patrol with Nigerien forces came under fire.
Two other soldiers were wounded in the attack on a joint U.S./Nigerian patrol. The head of North Africa Risk Consulting, Geoff D. Porter, stated that if the Islamic State played a role in the recent attacks, it would definitely draw the attention of other USA troops present not only within the region but also from other countries.
"Our country is once again the target of a terrorist attack, with a large number of victims", he said.
Officials have said the Green Berets were likely attacked by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb militants.
"The body of another USA service member has been recovered from the area of the attack, bringing the number of US service members killed in this attack to four", Col. Rob Manning, Pentagon spokesperson, said in a statement on Friday.
The officials weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.
In a press conference at the Pentagon Thursday, Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie defended the US presence in the country.
USA officials assess that these terrorist groups view Chad, Niger and Mali as being particularity important as they serve as bridges between north and sub-Saharan Africa, saying that local al Qaeda and ISIS affiliates use control of these transit routes to gain revenue that helps them recruit, expand and export attacks. Boko Haram, based south in Nigeria, has also staged several attacks in Niger.
The attack happened 200km (124 miles) north of Niamey, the capital of Niger, the US Africa Command statement said.
The identities of the three Green Berets killed in the attack were released earlier Friday. A USA official said the wounded were taken out by a US aircraft. Four Niger security forces were also killed. That effort has increased in recent years, the Pentagon said. "I don't have the exact numbers, but yeah, because Niger is an important partner of ours".
"We have a great opportunity there to do train, advise and assist [and] to do a variety of things with them to help them stand on their own two feet", McKenzie said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday night that Gen. John Kelly had briefed President Donald Trump on the incident.
In June, French President Emmanuel Macron won worldwide support for a United Nations -backed force of 5,000 regional troops from Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Mauritania to combat terrorism, drug smuggling and human trafficking in the Sahel. The first units are expected to deploy in October and all battalions should be on the ground by March 2018. The force gained U.N. Security Council backing in June but lacks funding. The countries have been pressing the global community to help funding and in equipping troops and ensuring their mobility and help with logistics, communications and protection in the field.