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American Green Berets caught by surprise when US-trained Guinea troops launch coup on their day off

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JOHN WESSELS/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration has suspended military assistance to the African country of Guinea after U.S.-trained Guinean special operations forces used their day off to instigate a coup.

No U.S. forces were involved in the overthrow of Guinean President Alpha Condé on Sept. 5, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday during a press conference.

"We obviously share the U.S. government's condemnation of this coup in Guinea," Kirby told reporters. "We're carefully reviewing the situation on the ground for any potential impacts on our military assistance. Until that review is complete, there's going to be no further training or support to the Guinean armed forces."

According to U.S. Africa Command spokeswoman Bardha S. Azari, American Green Berets had begun teaching Guinean special operators in July about small unit tactics, tactical combat casualty care, language training, and the Law of Armed Conflict, Task and Purpose reported.

During this time, U.S. forces had met with Guinean Col. Mamady Doumbouya, who has now declared himself the ruler of the country after overthrowing the government.

Doumbouya had approved activities between U.S. and guinean special operations forces.

Apparently, 100 Guinean special operators left their base and drove four hours to the country's capital, Conakry, to launch the coup without the U.S. special forces team being aware of the situation because "Sept. 5 was considered a down day for both forces."

A New York Times report suggested that U.S. troops were asleep when the Guinean forces left the base, but the Pentagon would not confirm that report.

A video posted on social media started rumors that U.S. forces were involved in the coup. The video, first reported by Stars and Stripes, shows crowds shouting "freedom" and "the Americans" in French as three U.S. soldiers in vehicles drove by. One Green Beret in the video smiles at the crowd and shakes hands with people as the vehicle proceeds through the crowded streets.

U.S. Africa Command clarified that the soldiers were provided a security escort to the embassy in Conakry and were not participants in the coup.

"The U.S. government and military are not involved in this apparent military seizure of power in any way," AFRICOM said. "The United States strongly condemns these actions in Guinea and any attempts at forceful seizures of power or unconstitutional actions."

The military leaders of the coup met with Guinean political, religious, and business leaders Tuesday to discuss the formation of a new government, Reuters reported.

In an address to the nation, Doumbouya warned the leaders to "not repeat the errors of the past." He and the other soldiers who led the coup said they overthrew the old government because of poverty and corruption and because Condé, the ousted president, had altered the country's constitution to stay in power for a third term.

But the coup was condemned by the U.S. and by Guinea's allies in the region.

"The military seizure of power is inconsistent with U.S. military training and education," Kirby said Monday.

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