Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

The U.S. readies to evacuate Americans from Lebanon if fighting between Israel and Hezbollah intensifies

By 37ci3 Jun27,2024

TEL AVIV – The Pentagon is moving US military assets closer to Israel and Lebanon to be ready to evacuate Americans during fighting between Israel and Lebanon. Hezbollah It is intensifying, according to three US defense officials and a former US official familiar with the plans.

The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp and Marines from the 24th Special Operations Expeditionary Unit departed for the Mediterranean on Wednesday to join the amphibious assault ship USS Oak Hill and another ship in the amphibious ready group. Marine Corps. Wasp will operate in the eastern Mediterranean Military Assisted Exit and other missions, officials said.

Wasp and the Marine Expeditionary Unit are also intended to project military power and prevent regional escalation, according to a US official familiar with the plans.

The move comes at a time when tensions continue to rise and cross-border firing is on the rise Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that Israel will launch airstrikes and a possible ground attack in Lebanon in the coming weeks, officials said.

Smoke rises from the holiday
Smoke from an Israeli strike on a Hezbollah target in the Lebanese city of Khiam on June 25. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Despite pressure from the Biden administration, Israeli officials have remained steadfast in their desire to follow through Hezbollah According to US officials familiar with the talks in Lebanon. Israel hopes to create a 10-mile buffer zone along the Lebanese border, U.S. and Israeli officials said.

Israel wants to push Hezbollah further away from the border and is working toward a diplomatic solution, but if that doesn’t work, the Israel Defense Forces are prepared to use force, an Israeli official said.

The goal is a peaceful return to northern Israel so that the 60,000 Israelis who have fled over the past eight months due to Hezbollah rocket fire can return to their homes.

Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit are trained to help civilians escape from dangerous environments. The Wasp also has attack and surveillance capabilities and can accommodate the F-35, the US’s long-range stealth fighter.

The U.S. is also talking to close allies to coordinate evacuations and any coalition military operations, U.S. defense officials said.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was in Washington this week to meet with senior Biden administration officials.

According to current and former US officials and Western officials, Iran and its Hezbollah supporters do not seek an all-out war with Israel and prefer the current situation, which puts Israel under international pressure. Fighting in Gaza and the north is draining Israel’s military, fueling internal political divisions and straining Israel’s allies.

US officials continue to say they have yet to see evidence that a major escalation is imminent, but warn that it only takes one strike or miscalculation to quickly escalate the situation. One US official said the pressure on Israel to act from its citizens in the north is “very real”. The US official said that Israeli officials feel the need to do something. “They think the status quo is unsustainable.”

The USA evacuated 15 thousand people in 2006

On Thursday, the US Embassy in Beirut warned Americans to reconsider their travel to Lebanon. “The security environment remains complex and can change quickly,” the warning said.

The State Department calculated for 2022 86,000 Americans live in Lebanon. During Israel’s war with Hezbollah in 2006, the United States expelled 15,000 people from the country.

Many aid organizations have already evacuated dependents of their staff from Lebanon, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

Canada is making contingency plans to evacuate about 20,000 Canadians from Lebanon, and allied military leaders are meeting Tuesday to discuss options, the CBC reported.

Canada is making emergency plans to evacuate up to 20,000 Canadians from Lebanon, Ottawa officials said.

Canada’s Department of National Defense said the Canadian armed forces “are in contact with allies and like-minded nations, monitoring the global landscape to be aware of upcoming threats that may result in appeals to support Canadians and Canadian interests.”

White House national security spokesman John Kirby responded Wednesday to a question about whether the United States should take more action in the region as tensions between Israel and Hezbollah rise: “It’s something we’re watching very closely. We continue monitoring. As the threat changes, so do our force protection procedures and protocols.”

White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement that restoring calm on the Israel-Lebanon border “remains a top priority for the United States and is extremely important to both Lebanon and Israel. We continue to work on a diplomatic resolution that will allow Israeli and Lebanese citizens to return home safely and live in peace and tranquility.”

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By 37ci3

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