The United States will send approximately 300 troops to Cameroon to aid in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in the West African nation that is facing a growing threat from the militant group Boko Haram. U.S. President Barack Obama announced the deployment Wednesday and gave no timeline for the troops’ withdrawal. Boko Haram is based in Nigeria but has carried out deadly attacks in neighboring Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin.
The troops “will remain in Cameroon until their support is no longer needed,” Obama wrote in a letter to Congress. He said that 90 troops were already on the ground and armed for self-defense, as the additional troops would be. “I directed the deployment of U.S. forces in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests,” Obama said.
A report by the U.S. State Department on religious freedom around the world released Wednesday blamed Boko Haram for an assault on religious freedom in West Africa. Secretary of State John Kerry said in presenting the report that the main source of persecution for religious minorities throughout the world was non-state actors, with Boko Haram included alongside Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group as those Kerry described as the “most harmful.”