World Bulletin / News Desk
Libya closed its air space over Benghazi airport temporarily because of heavy anti-aircraft fire aiming at U.S. reconnaissance drones flying over the city, days after the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in an attack.
The closure of the airport prompted speculation that the United States was deploying special forces in preparation for an attack against the suspects who were involved in the attack.
A Libyan official said the spy planes flew over the embassy compound and the city, taking photos and inspecting locations of groups who are alleged to have planned and staged the attack on the U.S. consulate on Tuesday.
Fighters used anti-aircraft guns to fire at the drones, forcing the authorities to shut the airport because they feared for the safety of passenger planes.
"Two American drones flew over Benghazi last night with knowledge of the Libyan authorities," Deputy Interior Minister, Wanis al-Sharif told Reuters. "They were visible to the eye, and came under attack by anti-aircraft weapons used by armed militias."
"For this reason, Benghazi security decided to close down the Benghazi airport airspace. Any decision to allow an operation of any sort on Libya soil will be made in coordination with the congress and the new government."
Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the other Americans died after gunmen attacked the lightly fortified U.S. consulate and a safe house refuge in Benghazi on Tuesday night. The attack, which U.S. officials believe could have been planned in advance, emerged from a protest blaming America for a film they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad.
Ali al-Shaikhi, spokesman for the Army Chief of Staff said Western allied forces, who helped Libyan rebels to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi last year, continued to fly planes and drones over Libyan airspace to help Libya keep its skies safe.
He said that they had increased flights in the past few days due to the worsening security situation.
"News came out that there were American drones in the air and so the airport received threats from unknown groups that they would attack any American planes circling over Benghazi. This led the airport to take the decision to close the airspace to take precautions."
The U.S. military was moving two destroyers toward the coast of the North African state, giving the Obama administration flexibility for any future action against threats, the officials said.
But a member of the Libyan national assembly told Reuters: "The Americans may have spoken to our President or Chief of Staff to coordinate an attack on the radical groups in Benghazi but they have not approached us as a Congress (assembly) yet."
"I believe that so far we as Libyans can take care of the operation ourselves because the militias feel they are part of Libyan society, but if we have Americans come in with an operation then these militias will also turn on us," he
"For sure we will need the Americans for their logistical and technical support and expertise, and we will ask them for it when the time comes. But for now we need to try to do it ourselves."
Airport manager Taba Mohammed said the closure ran for about 10 hours from 0030 GMT. U.S. officials said earlier a Marine Corps anti-terrorist squad was being sent into Libya to shore up security.
"We have now reopened the air space. It was closed for routine security checks," Mohammed told Reuters.
Turkish Airlines said the closure of Benghazi air space had forced one of its flights with 121 people aboard to turn back to Istanbul on Friday.
Fallujah was recaptured by the Iraqi army earlier this week after a more than month-long offensive against Daesh militants
"The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that gave the 'Leave' proponents a majority in Britain should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party in the United States," Sanders wrote.
French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday confirmed they were in “full agreement on how to handle the situation” created by Britain’s vote to quit the EU.
Telol al-Baj, near Mosul has been retaken by security forces
The project sets out to provide for some 30M people in the region who go hungry, says African Union official
The Sheraton hotel is now open for business in the capital city of Havana
“Now of course I am sad about that, but frankly I’m more concerned about Britain getting its relationship right with Europe.”
Refugee crisis has led to formation of right-wing terrorist groups, security service warns
Gibraltar is currently in talks with Scotland to discuss the possibility of remaining part of the EU
- Rifaat al-Assad, Syria's vice president in the 1980s, has also been accused of embezzlement
Emergency session at European Parliament prompts angry exchanges between EU leaders and eurosceptics over the Brexit
Senate set to vote on eform package on Tuesday 6 pm, before National Assembly takes it up next week
UK capital needs greater powers following Brexit decision, Sadiq Khan says
As UK's Conservative Party prepares for post-Brexit leadership race, British leader David Cameron travels to Brussels
Talks on Chapter 33 which deals with financial and budgetary provisions to begin on Thursday, Turkey's EU ambassador confirms
Detractors say new report does not increase Rousseff’s chances of returning to office