(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Tunisia has rejected reports indicating that the United States military is using Tunisian facilities to launch surveillance missions on ISIS locations in Libya.
The reports said that the US “secretly expanded its global network of drone bases to North Africa, deploying unmanned aircraft and US military personnel to a facility in Tunisia to conduct spy missions in neighbouring Libya.”
A spokesperson for the Tunisian defense ministry said, “As part of Tunisian-US bilateral cooperation, we have acquired drones to train our military personnel to use this technology and to control out southeastern border with Libya and detect any suspicious movement.”
“Tunisian soil has never been and never will be used to strike targets in Libya. The drones are used by Tunisians and no one else,” said Belhassen Oueslati denying the claims that US is launching spying operations from Tunisia.
In a radio interview on Thursday, Tunisian Defence Minister Farhat Horchani said, “We were one of the few first countries to oppose a foreign military intervention in Libya.”
“We don’t — and won’t — have a foreign military base in Tunisia,” added the Tunisian Minister.
Colonel Mark R. Cheadle, who is the chief of AFRICOM, stated that “there are no US bases in Tunisia.”
“There are US service members working with the Tunisian security forces for counter terrorism and they are sharing intelligence from various sources, to include unarmed aerial platforms,” said the Colonel.
Tunisia was exposed to a number of terrorist attacks on security checkpoints in March in Ben Guerdane, a town in southern eastern Tunisia near the Libyan border.
Following the attacks, Tunisia “requested additional military equipment and training from Washington after deadly militant attacks last year in Tunisia and the US has provided more than $250 million in security assistance.”