U.S. GENERAL SAYS AN ESTIMATED 6,000 AMERICANS TO BE
EVACUATED BY WEEKEND
July 20, 2006
(AP) - A U.S. Marine general coordinating the evacuation from Lebanon estimated Wednesday that more
than 6,000 Americans will have been taken out of the country by the weekend.
Brig. Gen. Carl Jensen also stressed
that the U.S. Embassy in Beirut will not close and that America
"is not deserting Lebanon."
commander of task force 59 also said that 1,100 Americans would be evacuated from Lebanon on Wednesday, bringing the total so far to 1,500. Most would be ferried
to Cyprus aboard a cruise liner and Navy
He did not know how may of the 25,000 Americans in Lebanon
would be leaving, but officials have in the past said about 8,000 had requested to go.
"The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon is staying open. This is not in any way shape
or form an evacuation of Lebanon. This
is an assisted departure," Jensen said at Larnaca airport. "We are assisting those Americans who choose to leave. Many, many
are choosing to stay."
America, he said, "is not deserting Lebanon" and that "at the end we are not abandoning Lebanon."
Jensen said that they hoped to more "approximately 3,000 Americans"
from Beirut on Thursday, brining the total number to more
than 6,000 by Friday. Most would be brought to Cyprus "from Lebanon on ferry vessels and Navy ships."
Force 59 was assembled from vessels from the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet and the 6th fleet, which is based in Naples, Italy.
The force includes
the USS Barry and USS Gonzalez, two destroyers that will guard the evacuation.
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