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U.S. and British Navies Aid Evacuation Efforts

July 18, 2006

The International Tribune has reported that a five-ship United States naval group and a British flotilla were en route to Lebanon today to aid in evacuation efforts. The Navy said it was sending a strike group led by the amphibious-assault ship Iwo Jima to assist in the departure of some of the 25,000 Americans in Lebanon. The ships have hospital facilities, and carry 2,200 marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. That unit includes a helicopter squadron that has already ferried scores of Americans to safety from Beirut, beginning with children, the elderly and those with medical problems. The marine unit is “special operations-capable,” the Navy said. The United States destroyer Gonzalez is already in the area, a Navy official said, escorting the Orient Queen, a 750-passenger cruise ship chartered by the United States government that left Cyprus early today to begin shuttling American citizens out of Lebanon. Britain said that six ships, including two aircraft carriers, were poised to help rescue British citizens in Lebanon. Source: International Tribune

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