US May Deploy Drones in North Africa to Combat ISIS

Reuters15.07.2015 Libya
US May Deploy Drones in North Africa to Combat ISIS

US May Deploy Drones in North Africa to Combat ISIS

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The United States is holding discussions with countries in North Africa about locating drones at a base there to heighten monitoring of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Libya, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported, citing a senior administration official.

Such a base near ISIS strongholds in Libya would help the United States "fill gaps in our understanding of what's going on" in that region, the official was quoted as saying.

The newspaper said drone flights would give U.S. military and intelligence agencies real-time information on the militant group's activities in Libya.

Fighters allied with ISIS Commanders in Iraq and Syria have been gaining ground in Libya, where two rival governments are battling for control and militants have taken advantage of the security vacuum.

The Journal, citing senior U.S. officials, said no North African country had yet agreed to offer access to a base. It quoted officials as saying any such facility would likely be an existing base under the control of the host country, with the United States receiving permission to place drones there along with a limited number of military personnel.

U.S. allies Egypt and Tunisia share borders with Libya. But the Journal reported administration officials declined to identify countries that could host U.S. drones.

U.S. military officials told the paper that drones launched from the proposed base could also be used in air strikes against ISIS targets in Libya and that the base could be a launching point for special operations missions against militants.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain should spend more of its defense budget on spy planes, drones and Special Forces to counter ISIS.

The government said last week it would meet NATO's defense spending pledge of 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) for the next five years, which would boost budgets to 47.7 billion pounds ($74 billion) a year by 2020.

“I have tasked the Defense and Security Chiefs to look specifically at how we do more to counter the threat posed by ISIS and Islamist extremism,” Cameron will say, according to excerpts from his speech.

“This could include more spy planes, drones and Special Forces. In the last five years, I have seen just how vital these assets are in keeping us safe.”

Britain's Defense Chiefs will conclude a security review later this year.

Source: Reuters; WSJ

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