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Defense Department Update
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 Lebanon.
  • 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 southern Lebanon.
  • 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 country.
  • 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 supplies.
  • 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.

Links: USAID information; State Department information information; Brig. Gen. Jensen biography; Ambassador Feltman biography

Last Updated:
12/11/2006, Eastern Daylight Time
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