Special to WorldTribune.com
The Italian government has given the U.S. the go-ahead to fly armed drones out of an American base in Sicily for missions against Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in Libya.
The drones are based at the Sigonella naval air station in Sicily, which is also a NATO and Italian air base.
Amid ISIL’s increased presence, U.S. and British special forces have been deployed in Libya and surveillance has been conducted by U.S., British and French warplanes.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has ruled out direct participation by Italy in any operations in Libya.
The deal, which comes after one year of negotiations between Italy and the U.S., does not give the American military free reign to use the base in Sicily. The U.S. will need permission from the Italian government each time it wants to release an armed drone.
Renzi’s government also stipulated that the missions will have to be limited to defensive strikes to protect special forces engaged in anti-ISIL missions.
Renzi is said to have “balked” at a request by the U.S. to use the Sicilian base for “offensive operations,” such as the ones conducted last week against an alleged training camp near the Libyan town of Sabratha that U.S. officials said targeted senior ISIL militants.