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Iran Press TV

US secretly using Tunisia airbase for drones spying on Libya: Sources

Iran Press TV

Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:57PM

The US military forces have secretly been using an airbase in Tunisia for drone operations to gather intelligence from inside oil-rich Libya, officials say.

The announcement was made by unnamed sources cited in a Washington Post report on Wednesday.

Libya has been struggling to contain the Daesh Takfiri terrorists, who started expanding their presence in the country following the overthrow and death of longtime dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011.

The base has apparently been in use since late June in an alleged effort to support the Libyan government's fight against the terrorists currently in control of the northern city of Sirte.

The US has also been using bases in Niger and Djibouti but those ones are farther away.

Efforts by the administration of President Barack Obama to Access the airbase were meant to keep drones and small Special Operations teams within striking distance of the militants and close a "blind spot" for US and Western spy agencies.

The officials also asserted that the drones were unarmed and tasked with gathering intelligence, adding, they could be armed in the future if Tunis agrees.

The Tunisian government is yet to issue a possible response to the report.

Drones tasked with assassination in the North African country usually fly out of Naval Air Station Sigonella on the Italian island of Sicily.

Daesh took advantage of a chaos gripping Libya since 2011, when a NATO military intervention followed the uprising that led to the death of Gaddafi.

The reason for keeping use of the airbase secret has been mentioned as part of the Obama administration efforts not to harm Tunisia's "young democracy," as put by the Washington Post.

Washington conducts targeted killings through remotely-controlled armed drones in several African and Middle Eastern countries.

The United States claims the airstrikes target members of al-Qaeda and other militants, but according to local officials and witnesses, civilians have been the victims of the attacks.

The airstrikes, initiated by former US President George W. Bush, have been escalated since Barack Obama took office in 2009.

International organizations and human rights groups say the airstrikes flout international law.

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