US shifts marines to Italy as situation in Libya becomes tense

US shifts marines to Italy as situation in Libya becomes tense
Wed Oct 9, 2013 11:39:29

The United States has moved more than 200 marines closer to Libya this week as part of an overall effort to beef up any potential security response.

Two US officials told CNN on Tuesday that in the past few days, 250 combat-ready marines have moved from their base in Moron, Spain, to the US naval installation at Sigonella, Italy. That would enable them to reach Tripoli, the capital of Libya, in three to four hours in the event of a crisis.

The move came days after a US army raid in Tripoli resulted in the capture of suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist, Abu Anas al-Libi.

According to a military source, the US Department of State aided in the troop movement and considers the maneuver “a prudent measure” following Saturday’s raid in Tripoli.

The officials declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information. Another 250 combat-ready marines remain at Moron for backup.

In addition, about three dozen marines from a highly specialized embassy guard unit have been sent to augment security at several embassies in the region, one of the US officials said. He declined to specify embassy locations due to security concerns. This unit, which can quickly deploy forces, is separate from the regular guard force the marines provide to embassies around the world.

Both officials emphasized the moves are more focused on the period around 9/11 rather than anything related to a potential military strike against Syria. Although no direct threats about 9/11 are known to have been made, the current "high threat" potential timeframe both officials described is likely to last for at least another week. The US embassies in Tripoli and in Sanaa, Yemen, are already guarded by a more heavily armed Marine force than in other countries.

In addition, the USS San Antonio with, 300 combat marines on board, is staying in the eastern Mediterranean to be ready to respond if needed.


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