U.S. Denies Rumors of Setting Up Military Base in Tunisia
Despite the flat denial by the Tunisian government’s spokesman of the existence of a US Army base on Tunisian soil, Echorouk (Algerian Media) claims to have secured visual evidence from well-informed quarters pointing to the current presence of a large number of US Marines and AFRICOM troops inside Tunisian territory close to the border with Algeria.
The US Military have reportedly set up bases in several parts of Tunisia notably in the regions of Benkirdan and Madnin as well as in Djardjiss, Echorouk Online stated on 30 December 2013.
The US Marines, backed by AFRICOM troops, have also established an Army base in the troubled Chaâmbi mount in the Kesrine Governorate close to the border with Algeria. The US Force is led by an Army Colonel and includes many experts well versed in topography and satellite surveillance, according to Echorouk.
The same sources also indicated that the US Marines and the AFRICOM troops were working in close conjunction with senior Tunisian Army Officers, adding that there were plans for the formation of a joint US-Tunisian military force entrusted with monitoring what’s happening on Tunisian soil notably in terms of security matters through the supervision of the movement of people, goods and vehicles, across Tunisian territory including the Algerian-Tunisian border regions.
The US and AFRICOM military force is beefed up by armored vehicles, light and heavy weaponry as well as by several reconnaissance planes including drones in charge of controlling and inspecting every nook and corner of Tunisian soil and the border regions by taking off from the Tabarka airbase in Tunisia itself, the same sources indicated.
However, the U.S. Embassy in Tunis issued a press release early December 2013 denying any intention of wanting to set up a military base in Tunisia.
The Embassy claims that information being shared that the United States plans to establish a military base in Tunisia are unfounded.
Earlier in March 2013, Tunisia's Defense Ministry spokesman also denied rumors of allowing a U.S. military base to be set up in his country, the official TAP press agency reported.
Colonel Major Mokhtar Ben Nasr told reporters in the capital Tunis that those rumors relayed by certain media and social networking websites were “baseless.” He added that the recent visit of Head of the U.S. Africa Command, General Carter Ham, in Tunisia was a farewell visit.
Ham, who met Tunisia's leaders and Defense officials during his visit, warned against the threat posed by al-Qaeda in the North African nation and the Maghreb.