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US warships not on Libya mission: Pentagon

September 14, 2012 10:20 IST

None of the US Navy's warships deployed in the Mediterranean have been assigned any specific mission to Libya in the aftermath of the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi that killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens, the Pentagon has said.

However, a Pentagon spokesman asserted that its naval assets in the region are prepared for any contingencies.

"On the issue of assets being moved towards Libya, I want to be very clear that we do have ships in the Mediterranean. We have had ships in the Mediterranean for some time.

"None of our naval vessels in that region have been assigned to any specific mission with respect to Libya," the Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little, told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.

Little was responding to questions of deployment of two US naval war ships off the coast of Libya in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack.

"And our assets in the region are prepared to respond to any contingency. That's what the US military does. But, again, they haven't been assigned a specific mission," he said.

The Department of Defence, he said, has been working closely with the White House and State Department to provide resources to support the security of US personnel and facilities in Libya.

On Wednesday the Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta, authorised the movement of a Marine Corps fleet anti-terrorism security team, a FAST platoon, into Libya to protect US citizens and secure its embassy in Tripoli.

"The Department also provided support to evacuate American personnel and casualties out of Libya and is supporting the return of the remains of our fallen colleagues to the United States. Over the past 48 hours, the leadership of this department have worked closely with combatant commanders to review our force posture in the region and to ensure that we have the flexibility to respond to requests for assistance or orders as directed by the president of the United States," he said.

There are US Marine security contingents that provide security to US embassies around the world, which includes Yemen and Tunisia.

"This department also continues to work closely with the State Department and our partners throughout the region, including Yemen, Egypt and Afghanistan, to ensure missions have any necessary resources from this department, given the potential for further protests in the coming days," he said.

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