From Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
U.S. unmanned surveillance drones are expected to begin flying over Benghazi and other locations in eastern Libya to look for jihadi encampments and targets that may be tied to the attack on U.S. State Department personnel, a senior U.S. official told CNN Wednesday. The plan is for the drones to gather intelligence and hand it off to Libyan leaders, for Libyan forces to strike the targets, the official said.
In June, Nic Robertson, Paul Cruickshank and Jomana Karadsheh reported that the U.S. was flying surveillance missions with drones over suspected jihadist training camps in eastern Libya because of concerns over rising activity by al Qaeda and like-minded groups in the region, according to a senior Libyan official. But the source said that to the best of his knowledge, they had not been used to fire missiles at militant training camps in the area.
Update (2:45 p.m) from CNN's Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence: A senior defense official explained, regarding drones, that the US military has been conducting ongoing drone surveillance operations over Libya for some time at least several months. What is expected is “a stepped-up, more focused search” for a particular insurgent cell that may have been behind the murder of the US Ambassador and other Americans. The defense official says he believes “the Libyans have known about it [the drone surveillance flights] for some time.”