Marines, Ospreys on standby to evacuate U.S. diplomats in Libya

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Some 250 Marines and at least 10 aircraft at the U.S. air base in Italy stand ready to evacuate American diplomats in Libya amid renewed fighting between militias in that country, according to the Department of Defense (DOD).

Ospreys and KC-130s from an air base in Spain have been positioned at U.S. Naval Air Station Sigonella, Stars and Stripes quoted Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby as telling reporters Tuesday.

Four U.S. V-22 Ospreys arrived Monday at the naval base bringing the number of aircraft there to eight, a U.S. defense source said.

V-22 Ospreys can take off and land vertically and carry at least two dozen passengers. The official said the aircraft can be on the air on six hours notice for possible evacuation of some 200 personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.

Marines at the base were also beefed up with 180 Marines and sailors from Morón Air Base in Spain.

Both aircraft and Marines are part of a crisis team formed after the deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi in 2012.

Libya is reportedly spiraling into civil war as a former general turned rebel leader led attacks on Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi and the parliament in Tripoli starting Friday. Forces of the general, Khalifa Heftar, targeted Ansar al-Sharia militias in a bid to rid the country of Islamists suspected of controlling the interim government and parliament.

Clashes on Sunday killed four people and wounded 90 others, Libya’s health ministry said. Heftar militias also stormed the parliament building sending lawmakers fleeing.

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