Italy would 'positively consider' US use of airbases in Libya strikes
ROME - Agence France-Presse
Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti prepares to speak at the Italian Chamber of Deputies in Rome, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. AP photoItaly's defence minister Roberta Pinotti said on August 3 that Rome would positively consider a US request to use airbases and airspace for Libya strikes.
"The government is ready to positively consider a request to use airbases and national airspace, and support the operation, if it is believed that it would lead to a more rapid and effective conclusion of the ongoing action," Pinotti said during parliamentary question time.
US warplanes began carrying out air strikes on positions of the Islamic State jihadist group in its Libyan stronghold of Sirte on August 1 in response to a request from Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA).
"The government keeps and open, direct and constant line of dialogue with both our Libyan counterparts and our American allies to keep an eye on the operation's developments and the need for indirect support," Pinotti said.
She added that Rome believes "success in the fight to eliminate IS's terrorist centres in Libya" was of "fundamental importance to the security, not only of that country, but of Europe and Italy."
Pinotti said that the raids had not yet used Italian airbases or airspace.
On August 2, Italy's foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni welcomed the air strikes said his government would evaluate any US request to use the Sicilian Sigonella military air base in the campaign.
The Tripoli-based GNA launched an operation in May to retake the IS bastion of Sirte, the hometown of slain strongman Moamer Kadhafi which the jihadists have controlled since June 2015.