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Italian Defense Minister Confirms Allowing US to Launch Drones From Sicily

© AFP 2021 / MASSOUD HOSSAINIUS Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile
US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile - Sputnik International
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Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti confirmed on Tuesday Italy's permission for the United States to use the Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily for launching unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) against Daesh targets in Libya, local media said.

ROME (Sputnik) — On Monday, US media reported on the deal, which was closed between Italy and the United States in January following a year of negotiations. However, wary of facing blame for civilian casualties, Italy permitted the drones to be used only in defensive operations, with the United States obliged to file a request before conducting each flight.

"The Sigonella base is used by the United States as per the 1951 treaty. Every time when new circumstances emerge, a request is made. There is nothing strange in this. Some discussion was required, because Italy must be involved as a leader and coordinator in the common security strategy in Libya," Pinotti said in an interview with the Il Messaggero newspaper.

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The drones are set to be used for protecting US service personnel and facilities across North Africa and are not linked to an escalation of operations in Libya, the minister added.

On Friday, a US airstrike targeted a terrorist training camp in the Libyan town of Sabratha. According to the Serbian government, two kidnapped Serbian diplomats, Sladjana Stankovic and Jovica Stepic, were among those killed in the strike.

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