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US Asks to Use Its Air Bases in Spain in Ebola Mission

An ambulance driver in protective suit arrives at Madrid's Carlos III Hospital carrying a possible new Ebola patient, in Madrid, Oct. 16, 2014.

The United States has asked the Madrid government for permission to use the U.S. air bases in Spain in its operation to combat the Ebola crisis in Africa, a Defense Ministry source said on Thursday.

“The U.S. authorities have indeed asked Spain to use their bases in the country as a transit point for logistics and engineers building up field hospitals in Liberia and Sierra Leone,” the source told Reuters.

Madrid was set to agree to the request, he said.

“None of the planes will transport patients or people suspected to have contracted Ebola, or who have been in contact with infected people,” he said. “Spain will have a right to inspect the planes and passengers.”

US troops in West Africa

The United States is deploying up to 4,000 troops to West Africa to help contain the worst outbreak of the disease on record.

A decision is due to be announced on Friday when Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenes meets U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Washington.

The United States has four bases in Spain, at Moron de la Frontera near Seville and Rota near Cadiz in southern Spain, Torrejon de Ardoz near Madrid and Zaragoza in the north.

About 4,500 people have died in the outbreak, nearly all of them in West Africa. Spain was thrust into the forefront of the crisis when a Spanish nurse in Madrid became the first person to contract the disease outside West Africa.