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U.S. Marines Move Closer to Libya Following Unrest

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USS Bataan (LHD-5) on May 15, 2014. US Navy Photo

USS Bataan (LHD-5) on May 15, 2014. US Navy Photo

The Pentagon is moving an amphibious warship closer to Libya following an attack on the prime minister’s home, a defense official told USNI News on Wednesday.

USS Bataan (LHD-5) and about 1,000 embarked Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary unit are currently in the Eastern Mediterranean moving closer to the country.

The ship transited the Suez Canal on Tuesday and could be off the Libyan coast as early as Thursday.

The ship is embarked with a collection of MV-22 Ospreys, AV-8B Harrier II tactical fighters and AH-1 Cobra helicopter gunships.

Bataan’s move is in response to increasing tensions in a post- Moammar Gadhafi Libya.

Early Tuesday morning gunmen attacked the Tripoli home of Libyan Prime Minister Ahmed Miitig, according to a report in Reuters.

An aide told the wire service, “there was an attack with rockets and small arms on the prime minister’s house.”

Miitig and his family escaped unharmed.

Libya’s government has been in turmoil since the 2011 civil war that resulted in the death of dictator Gadhafi with a high rate of turnover in leadership positions.

Matters are exasperated by easy access to small arms in the country following the NATO and U.S. backed campaigns in the region.

The U.S. also has a group of Marines in Italy in range of Libya.