May 23, 2014
US Aircraft sent to Italy for possible Libya evacuation
Seven Ospreys and three KC-130s from an air base in Spain have been positioned at U.S. Naval Air Station Sigonella with another Osprey arriving soon.
About 180 Marines and sailors with the team were moved last week with six aircraft from Morón Air Base in Spain; there are now 250 Marines there. The move was in response to growing concerns over militia battles in northern Libya and their proximity to Americans at the embassy in Tripoli. Several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Algeria, have already closed their diplomatic missions in Tripoli.
There have been no requests for assistance from the Marines in Sigonella. But if called on to help with evacuations of U.S. diplomatic personnel the team is in a posture and in a location that should they be needed in North Africa, specifically Libya, that they would be ready to do so.
The crisis-response team has been mobilized periodically as threats arise in Africa. The team took part in embassy evacuations in South Sudan last year.
The battles in Libya come after fighters loyal to a former regime general and later rebel leader attacked Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi and the parliament in Tripoli.