July 26, 2006 - Cyprus Briefing, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Carl Jensen
Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Carl Jensen, commander of Task Force 59, briefed
the Pentagon press corps today from Cyprus on efforts to assist
Americans wishing to depart Lebanon. Following are highlights of his
remarks, and additional information about the efforts.
The U.S. military has helped the State Department safely
transport approximately 14,000 U.S. citizens wishing to voluntarily
depart Lebanon in the past 10 days.
More than 5,000 U.S. servicemembers were involved in the
operation from all the Services. Brig. Gen. Jensen described the
military's mission as moving Americans as quickly and efficiently as
possible, to assist in their departure.
The number of Americans who showed up at the U.S. embassy in
Beirut has dropped from thousands a day at the beginning of the week
down to hundreds.
The military will continue to support those Americans still
wishing to depart Lebanon from Beirut, and will continue to support the
embassy's efforts to move Americans via civil transport out of southern
Regarding southern Lebanon: more than 100 U.S. citizens from
southeast Lebanon are expected to leave the port city of Tyre by
commercial vessel this evening.
U.S. Embassy Beirut has announced that the last regular daily
ship departure from Beirut will be today. Future assisted departures
will be conducted every other day for the time being. Embassy officials
continue to facilitate departure options for citizens wishing to leave
The number of Navy ships on the scene remains the same.
The military's focus is switching from assisted departures to
humanitarian efforts. Yesterday the military dropped off basic medical
supplies in Lebanon.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has the
lead in humanitarian relief.
U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman officially declared a
humanitarian emergency in Lebanon on July 25. The declaration
facilitates the delivery of U.S. government emergency assistance to the
The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which has been on the ground
participating in evacuation efforts, has not been assigned to the
humanitarian mission yet, but will likely help with transporting
Brig. Gen. Jensen praised the effort, dedication and
professionalism of the U.S. servicemembers involved, adding that their
fellow citizens were extremely grateful for their assistance. He also
thanked the governments of Cyprus and Turkey for offering safe haven to
the departing Americans.