Accessibility links

Breaking News

US Marines, Aircraft Moved Closer to North Africa

US Marine officers work next to an MV-22 Osprey vertical take off and lift aircraft , in the Sigonella airbase, Sicily, Thursday, March 24, 2011
The United States has strengthened its forces in Sicily following possible terrorist threats against U.S. targets in North Africa.

Nearly 200 Marines, four Osprey aircraft, and two KC-130 planes were transferred to the Italian island this week from their base in Spain.

Speaking Friday in Washington, a State Department spokesperson would not specify the nature of the threats, but said the forces were moved to "support the security of diplomatic personnel."

There has been fighting this week in Benghazi, Libya — where Islamist militants attacked the U.S. consulate in September 2012 and killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

The State Department said the transfer had nothing to do with the 276 schoolgirls being held by militants in Nigeria. U.S. surveillance drones and aircraft have been flying over Nigeria to help with the search for the girls.