US Readies To Evacuate Americans From Lebanon If War Erupts, Marines En Route

US Readies To Evacuate Americans From Lebanon If War Erupts, Marines En Route

With Israel-Hezbollah tensions soaring and the US and European countries urging both sides against an all-out war, the US Embassy in Beirut has issued a new travel advisory warning American citizens to stay away from Lebanon. “We remind US citizens to strongly reconsider travel to Lebanon,” said the fresh notice which follows prior similar alerts. It warned in particular about travel to the south of Lebanon and in border areas with Syria, and to also avoid refugee settlements.

In the event of a “sudden outbreaks of violence and armed conflict” the Lebanese government nor the US Embassy can ensure US citizens’ safety, the notice warned further. Some European countries have issued similar alerts, with the Netherlands and Germany being the latest to warn their nationals to evacuate the country.

Throughout more than eight months of war, both sides have kept the engagement ‘limited’ – but the last weeks have seen bigger and bigger tit-for-tat strikes conducted along the border. Israeli attacks are also reaching deeper into Lebanon, and are occurring more frequently.

But the Pentagon clearly believes a big escalation is imminent, and has moved assets off the coast in preparation for a potential emergency evacuation of Americans in the event of all-out war:

The Pentagon is moving U.S. military assets closer to Israel and Lebanon to be ready to evacuate Americans as fighting between Israel and Hezbollah intensifies, according to three U.S. defense officials and a former U.S. official familiar with the plans.

The USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship, and Marines from the 24th Expeditionary Unit, which is special operations capable, moved into the Mediterranean on Wednesday to join the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill and another ship in their amphibious ready group, according to the Marine Corps. The Wasp will operate in the eastern Mediterranean to be ready for a Military Assisted Departure and other missions, the officials said.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military (IDF) is conducting major drills along its northern border with Lebanon, in some significant signaling just days after the Netanyahu government approved potential war plans against Hezbollah.

The drills which simulate combat began last week, with the IDF only now publishing videos and photos of the exercises, which also feature scenarios of a bigger offensive.

The IDF said the drills are for “responding to various threats with the cooperation of the infantry, armor and fire forces” – at a moment there continues to be daily Hezbollah drone and rocket launches into northern Israel.

IDF forces also practiced combat scenarios “in a tangled terrain that simulates combat on a northern route, progress along a mountain route and the use of gradual fire,” the statement said further.

Among the units present for the drill included the 55th Reserve Paratroopers Brigade, which strongly points to Israel gearing up for a major invasion of south Lebanon.