WASHINGTON, May 15 (UPI) -- A team of 200 U.S. Marines has moved from Spain to Italy, monitoring potential conflict in North Africa and the safety of U.S. embassies there.
The Marines, with six military aircraft, arrived at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily. They are part of a special-purpose, crisis-response team based in southern Spain and organized after the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Both a White House spokesman and Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren made it clear, in separate briefings, the mobilization is not a preparation to deploy the team to Nigeria, where Islamist insurgents have killed hundreds in the past several months and currently are keeping more than 200 schoolgirls as hostages.
Warren said U.S. embassies in North Africa are potential targets, and the team is a part of what Warren called "the new normal."
The White House spokesman Nigerian officials are being advised by the United States, but deployment of U.S. forces there is not under consideration.