Editor’s Note: In modern warfare, agreements such as this make life much simpler and allow for a fair amount of flexibility in the breadth and scope of operations conducted. By Italy allowing RPAs to take off and land from Sigonella Air Base in Sicily, the U.S. is now able to conduct unmanned ISR operations in Libya more easily, and can mount targeted attacks under specific conditions. It will negate instances where, in the case of other countries, someone cries foul every time a Reaper makes a ne’er-do-well disappear in a flash and cloud of dirt and debris.
Italy has agreed to let armed U.S. drones take off from an air base in Sicily on a case-by-case basis for defensive missions against Islamic State militants in North Africa, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Tuesday.
“If it is a matter of operations against terrorists, against potential Islamic State attackers, there is a close relationship between us and the other allies, above all the Americans,” Renzi said in an interview with RTL radio.
The prime minister, who has repeatedly said Italy would not take part in military strikes in Libya without the express request of a recognized government, said they would be authorized “case by case.”
An Italian defense ministry official said late on Monday the agreement would allow defensive missions and not offensive action, such as the attack on a suspected militant training camp in Sabratha, Libya, that killed dozens last week.
Italy will authorize departures from the Sigonella base near Catania only if each mission’s aim is to protect personnel, the ministry official said, adding that no request had yet been made.
Sigonella, in eastern Sicily, is home to a U.S. Naval Air Station as well as a base for the Italian Air Force. It is sometimes used for logistical support for American and other NATO forces.
Renzi said he preferred a diplomatic response to Islamic State, which has faced U.S.-led air strikes on the caliphate it has proclaimed across swathes of Iraq and Syria since 2014.
“But then, if we have proof that there are ‘kamikaze’ attackers preparing potential strikes, naturally Italy will do its part along with all the others,” he said.
Islamic State is exploiting chaos in Libya, where two rival governments have been vying for power since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011, to establish bases and conduct raids both in Libya and in neighboring Tunisia.
U.S. officials have been trying to persuade Italy to let them conduct such operations from the Sigonella air base for more than a year, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The original article at Reuters can be viewed here.
(Featured photo: A fully armed MQ-9 Reaper taxis down an Afghanistan runway. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)