The U.S. military is using small spy aircraft disguised as private planes as it expands secret intelligence operations across Africa, The Washington Post reported late Wednesday.
The surveillance missions are part of a "growing shadow war against al-Qaida affiliates and other militant groups," the newspaper said.
Citing a former U.S. commander, the Post said about dozen air bases have been set up for the unarmed spy planes in Africa since 2007. The newspaper said they include sites in Burkina Faso, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya as well as in the Seychelles.
The report added:
"The surveillance is overseen by U.S. Special Operations forces but relies heavily on private military contractors and support from African troops.
The surveillance underscores how Special Operations forces, which have played an outsize role in the Obama administration’s national security strategy, are working clandestinely all over the globe, not just in war zones. The lightly equipped commando units train foreign security forces and perform aid missions, but they also include teams dedicated to tracking and killing terrorism suspects."
The Post said that the U.S. Africa Command declined to comment on "specific operational details."
However, the command confirmed that it worked "closely with our African partners ... to conduct missions or operations that support and further our mutual security goals."
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