The United States is holding discussions with countries in North Africa about locating drones at a base there to heighten monitoring of Islamic State (ISIS) in Libya, Reuters reports, citing a senior administration official who spoke with the Wall Street Journal.
Such a base near ISIS strongholds in Libya would help the United States “fill gaps in our understanding of what’s going on” in that region, the official was quoted as saying.
The newspaper said drone flights would give the United States military and intelligence agencies real-time information on the militant group's activities in Libya.
Fighters allied with ISIS commanders in Iraq and Syria have been gaining ground in Libya, where two rival governments are battling for control and jihadists have taken advantage of the security vacuum.
The Wall Street Journal, citing senior U.S. officials, said no North African country had yet agreed to offer access to a base. It quoted officials as saying any such facility would likely be an existing base under the control of the host country, with the United States receiving permission to place drones there along with a limited number of military personnel.
Egypt and Tunisia share borders with Libya, but the newspaper reported that administration officials declined to identify countries that could host U.S. drones.
In February, ISIS's presence in Libya hit headlines when it broadcast the brutal mass execution of 21 Coptic Christians, triggering reprisal air raids from Egypt and a mass-exodus of Egyptian workers from the country.
In March, ISIS terrorists published a video in which they vowed that their conquest in Libya will serve as a springboard for a European invasion.
U.S. military officials told the Wall Street Journal on Sunday that drones launched from the proposed base could also be used in air strikes against Islamic State targets in Libya and that the base could be a launching point for special operations missions against terrorists.