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Italy allows anti-IS American drones to depart from Sicily

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LIBYAPROSPECT – Aya Khalil

Italy has agreed to let armed US drones take off from an air base in Sicily for defensive missions against the Islamic State group (IS) in Libya, the Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

An Italian defense ministry official said, late on Monday, that the agreement would allow defensive missions and not offensive action, such as the attack on a suspected militant training camp in Sabratha, Libya, that killed dozens last week.

Italy will authorize departures from the Sigonella air base, near Catania, only if each mission’s aim is to protect personnel, the ministry official said, adding that no request had yet been made.

Renzi said they would be authorized “case by case”.

The Wall Street Journal reported that US officials have been trying for more than a year to persuade Italy to allow them to conduct such operations from the Sigonella air base.

The special envoy of the Italian government, Giorgio Starace, said that Italy refuses to unilaterally fight terrorists, confirming that such request must come from the Government of National Accord (GNA).

Italy has expressed concern over possible sneaking of terrorists into its lands amongst the influx of African migrants.

“Our primary goal is forming a government in Libya”, he said. “Military intervention against terrorism in the country, especially the IS, requires the invitation of the Libyan government, we are against the unilateral military intervention in Libya. We have a great harmony with our partners in the international community in this regard, with Turkey, America, and Qatar”, he added.

The foreign affairs correspondent in the Italian Newspaper La Republica, Negro Vincenzo, said that Libya is of great importance for the security of Italy.

Vincenzo explained that the cautious position of Italy stems from the experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas, adding that that is the reason for which the Italian government and the majority of members of parliament want Libyans political forces to take over the management.

Vincenzo expressed his belief that the Italian people support the government’s policy towards Libya.