Three weeks ago, four U.S. soldiers were killed during an ambush in Niger by about 50 attackers (assumed to be from an ISIS-affiliated group). Most of the reporting surrounding the attack has centered upon President Trump’s anger after his messy phone call with Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow. As for the attack itself, more questions than answers have persisted for weeks, and Sen. John McCain (as head of the Armed Service Committee) demanded details.
On Thursday evening, McCain spoke with reporters after a classified briefing to reveal more about findings in the Pentagon’s investigation. Although all of the details aren’t in yet, officials now know more than they did during last week’s briefing by General Joseph Dunford. The New York Times rounds up everything, including how the soldiers who were killed became separated from the rest of the unit, which totaled a dozen members of an Army Special Forces team and around 30 Nigerien soldiers. Here’s more:
Their squad mates immediately alerted commanders that they were under attack — then called for help nearly an hour later, as a top Pentagon official said this week — and ground forces from Niger’s army and French Mirage jets were both dispatched.
About two hours later, the firefight tapering off, French helicopters from nearby Mali swooped in to the rescue on the rolling wooded terrain. But they retrieved only seven of the 11 Americans. The four others were inexplicably left behind, no longer in radio contact and initially considered missing in action by the Pentagon, a status that officials say raises the possibility they were still alive when the helicopters took off without them.