Italy offers air bases, forces for Libya no-fly zone

Italy has "granted the use of military bases on its national territory", the government's press office said after an emergency cabinet meeting in Rome, yesterday.

"The Americans and the British have already made requests for some bases," Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa told a meeting in parliament.

He added that seven air bases in Italy were available for operations.
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Italy had also shut down its embassy in Tripoli and evacuated diplomatic staff following the UN vote.

Frattini also stressed Italy would prefer the involvement of NATO as a "protection umbrella" against possible retaliation attacks from Libya.

Italian aircraft could be used "to identify targets linked to a no-fly zone that if violated would trigger an attack on radars or air defence," he added.

Italy "will play its role on the frontline", he continued.
The use of Italy's air bases is seen as critical for any military action because of its location just across the Mediterranean from northern Libya.

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