Spain to pull troops from Libya as soon as NATO's role ends
Spanish Defence Minister Carme Chacon on Tuesday said Spain would withdraw its troops from Libya as soon as NATO formally announced the end of its operations there.
"As soon as NATO formally confirms the end of this operation, Spanish assets will be immediately pulled back to Spanish territory," she told a press conference.
"This means that all the troops that we have today in Libyan territory will be in Spain before October 31," she added.
"The efforts carried out during these seven months have borne fruit," Chacon said. "Today Libyans have seen the dream which led them to revolt against the dictatorship fulfilled: to live in a country with the right to decide their own destiny."
On October 12 Chacon said that Madrid was withdrawing its four F-18 fighter jets assigned to the NATO air campaign in Libya due to positive developments in the north African country.
The minister noted that Spain still had two refueling aircraft in Libya and would continue to help enforce the UN-mandated arms embargo on the country with a frigate and a maritime patrol aircraft.
Spain has 60 troops stationed at the Italian base of Decimomannu in Sardinia who are charged with operating the two refueling aircraft and the maritime patrol aircraft and another 235 marines aboard the frigate, the defence ministry said in a statement.
NATO ambassadors are scheduled to meet Wednesday to make a formal decision on a preliminary agreement to terminate the Libya mission on October 31.
But Libya's new regime has asked the alliance to maintain air operations a month longer than planned.
The alliance decided to wind down the mission after determining that civilians were essentially free from the threat of attacks from fighters loyal to strongman Moamer Kadhafi, who was killed by NTC forces last week.
© 2011 AFP