By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 25 November 2016:
The Tunisian president has confirmed that American surveillance drones are operating from his country. Beji Caid Essebsi’s statement comes after his defence minister Farhat Horchani had denied media reports that any such thing was happening.
While last month Washington declined to comment officially, off the record briefings suggested that unarmed drones were being flown from an airbase in eastern Tunisia to monitor terrorist activity in the west of Libya. It was said that between 70 and 90 American servicemen were with these aircraft. However, stories that the drones were armed and being used against IS terrorists in Sirte did not seem to make sense, given the offshore presence of the assault ship USS Wasp from which air strikes on the town and surveillance missions were already being launched.
The Tunisian president’s statement will come as an embarrassment to Horchani who last month categorically denied the drone reports. “We were among the first countries to oppose foreign military intervention in Libya,” he told a local radio station, “ We don’t and we won’t have a foreign military base in Tunisia”.
However, Essebsi has insisted that the US drones are being used purely for the defence of Tunisia, patrolling the border area with Libya.