The Unite States is using armed drones to carry out counterterrorism missions in Ethiopia, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
The secret operations involving Reaper drones have been confirmed by Master Sergeant James Fisher, a spokesman for the 17th Air Force, which oversees operations in Africa, according to the report.
Fisher said an unspecified number of Air Force personnel are working at the Ethiopian airfield "to provide operation and technical support for our security assistance programs."
The drone flights "will continue as long as the government of Ethiopia welcomes our cooperation on these varied security programs," he added.
The drone base is located at the Arba Minch airport, about 480 km south of Addis Ababa and about 960 km east of the Somali border, within the 1,840-km reach of standard models of the Reaper, according to the report.
The newspaper reported last month that the United States is building a series of secret drone bases in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as part of counterterrorism efforts targeting al-Qaida's affiliates in Somalia and Yemen. But it did not disclose the location of the Ethiopian base and the fact that it became operational this year.
The report came at a time when the United States has been expanding the use of drones on counterterrorism missions, and has increasingly targeted al-Qaida's affiliates outside South Asia, particularly in Yemen and Somalia.