The United States is reportedly training commandos in North and West African countries to boost the fight against al-Qaida’s regional offshoot, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQIM).

The secret programme includes military forces in Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali, according to the New York Times.

Launched last year, the programme utilises members of elite US military units such as the Green Berets and Delta Force. It is partially financed by millions of dollars of classified Pentagon spending, and seeks to mould hundreds of hand-picked commandos into efficient counter-terror units.

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