• Live
    • Audio Only
  • google plus
  • facebook
  • twitter
News > World

Tunisia Hosting US Drones Used in Syria

  • An MQ-9 Reaper at a training mission Nov. 17, 2015

    An MQ-9 Reaper at a training mission Nov. 17, 2015 | Photo: AFP

Published 27 October 2016

Tunisia and the U.S. said that drones were only used for surveillance purposes.

Tunisian officials denied that the country was a host for a U.S. drone program against the Islamic State group Thursday, following U.S. media reports and Washington officials stating that the U.S. has expanded its drone program to Tunisia and across Africa.

Why Is Facebook About to Launch Thousands of Drones?​

“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 Tunisian military spokesman Belhassen Oueslati. "As part of Tunisian-U.S. bilateral cooperation, we have acquired drones to train our military personnel to use this technology and to control our southeastern border with Libya and detect any suspicious movement."

Drones have been operating in Tunisia since June to support Libyan forces loyal to the government in their fight against the Islamic State group, U.S. government sources said Wednesday.

Pro-government forces in Libya have been aided by U.S. air support. The U.S. Africa Command said Thursday that they had carried out 351 airstrikes in Libya since August. Since Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi was ousted with the support of the U.S. and NATO in 2011, the country has been increasingly unstable and slipped into civil war.

A close military ally of the U.S. against the Islamic State group, Tunisia has been given more than US$250 million in security assistance including equipment and training.

U.S. sources, who spoke anonymously, said that the drones were used to collect intelligence and were unarmed. The Air Force Reaper drones, however, have the potential to be armed.

Drones in Rwanda: Might There Be a Hidden Agenda?

The Washington Post had earlier reported that the U.S. was secretly expanding its unmanned drone network across Africa, and already operates bases in Niger, Jordan, Djibouti and Sicily.

The Obama administration has been heavily criticized for its regular use of drones to attack the Islamic State group, al-Qaida and other militant groups in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Monitoring organizations say that the U.S. vastly underestimates the death toll from drone attacks, which have frequently killed civilians and missed designated targets. Civilian deaths are likely to have exceeded 1,000, according to monitoring group Reprieve.

Post with no comments.