200 U.S. Marines moved to Sigonella after capture of al-Qaeda leader in Libya
According to ANSA news agency, the U.S. has reinforced its presence in Sicily, amid tensions with Libya following the recent raid by the Delta Force that led to the capture of an Al Qaeda leader in the North African country.
Some 250 marines (200 according to some sources) were deployed from Moron, Spain, to the NATO base of Sigonella, to face potential threats to U.S. diplomats in Libya, that could be sparked by the capture of Abu Anas al Libi.
The precautionary move is only the last of a series of measures undertaken after the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that cost the life of ambassador Chris Stevens and and three others.
Immediately after the deadly attack last year, the Pentagon deployed to North Africa a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST), an expeditionary group of skilled and very well equipped Marines capable to reinforce U.S. security forces at embassies and other key installations around the world. Then, several Special Operations Assets, including AC-130U Spectre gunships and helicopters were deployed in the Mediterranean area.
Earlier this year, in May, 500 American marines were moved from Spain to Sigonella amid growing tensions in Libya.
Sigonella, is one of NATO’s largest airbases in southern Europe; it often hosts U.S. warplanes on deployment, tanker aircraft supporting them as well as drones spying on Mali, and maritime patrol aircraft.
Image credit: André Inácio