Tunisian president confirms requesting U.S. drone surveillance of Libya

by WorldTribune Staff, November 24, 2016

The U.S. is flying surveillance drones from Tunisia to scope out Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) activity in Libya, Tunisia’s president confirmed.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi. /Getty Images
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi. /Getty Images

Last month, U.S. government sources said unarmed American drones had begun flying into Libya from a Tunisian air base.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said in a television interview on Nov. 22 that the U.S. drones were flying missions at the Libya-Tunisia border “at our request.”

“Our agreement with the U.S. was to share intelligence information,” he said.

Opposition leaders in Tunisia say any U.S. military presence on its soil would be a breach of Tunisia’s sovereignty.

Essebsi, however, said the measure was needed to avoid cross-border attacks by jihadists such as the ISIL assault on the Tunisian town of Ben Guerdan in March.

Dozens of ISIL fighters stormed through the Tunisian town of Ben Guerdan near the Libyan border, attacking army and police posts. Tunisian forces repelled the attack, but at least 53 people were killed in the raid, including civilians.

“We should act instead of waiting until another Ben Guerdan,” Essebsi said.

Essebsi said the surveillance drones would be given to Tunisia after training conducted by 70 U.S. soldiers. He did not say how many drones were being used or how long the training would last.