Britain may offer military assets to track human traffickers in Libya

RAF sources disclosed they are preparing to offer the Sentinel or Sentry spy planes to hunt for boats and track gang leaders.

A Sentinel spy plane
A Sentinel spy plane

Royal Air Force spy planes could be deployed to north Africa to track trafficking gangs sending migrants to their deaths in the Mediterranean.

Britain is ready to deploy surveillance drones to provide intelligence on the movement of people traffickers, Downing Street confirmed on Monday.

RAF sources disclosed they are preparing to offer the Sentinel or Sentry spy planes to hunt for boats and track gang leaders.

The Sentinel was deployed by the RAF in Afghanistan, and last year in Nigeria to hunt Boko Haram terrorists who kidnapped schoolgirls. It can identify vehicles and boats moving on the ground.

The EU on Monday agreed to set up a naval mission off the Libya coast to capture and destroy boats to tackle the rising number of migrants attempting the crossing.

Following pressure from Britain, Federica Mogherini, Europe's most senior diplomat, will now attempt to get permission from the UN Security Council for a military campaign to disrupt the traffickers.

In a blow to EU leaders, Libya on Monday rejected the plans - after Britain insisted it secures the approval of the country's internationally recognised government. "The military option to deal with the boats inside Libyan waters or outside is not considered humane," said a spokesman.

European leaders were spurred into action following the drowning of more than 1,700 people since the start of the year.

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