Following Massive Beirut Explosion, Pentagon Flies Aid To Lebanon


By C. Todd Lopez

The Pentagon is in the process of shipping supplies to Beirut to provide much-needed assistance in the aftermath of a massive explosion in the Labanese capital, the assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs said.

“We … want to express the department’s sympathies in mourning the lives of so many lost in Lebanon on Tuesday. This is a horrific tragedy,” Jonathan Rath Hoffman said during a Pentagon news conference Thursday.

Hoffman said Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, has talked with the commander of the Lebanese armed forces to inform him that three C-17 aircraft will bring relief supplies to Lebanon.

The first C-17 Globemaster III aircraft has already arrived in Beirut to deliver supplies, a Centcom statement said today. Included in those supplies are 11 pallets of food, water and medical supplies.

Over the next 24 hours, the Centcom statement  said, two additional C-17s will depart Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar to deliver additional supplies to Beirut.

Hoffman said the Defense Department will continue to work with the State Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development on any additional aid missions.

The exact cause of the Aug. 4 explosion in Beirut is not known, Hoffman said, but the Lebanese government is investigating and the U.S government is ready to assist if asked.

“The investigation into the explosion is ongoing. We’re going to defer to and give the Lebanese government space to complete their investigation and reach their conclusions,” he said. “We’re going to work with them. If they ask for assistance, the U.S. would be willing to provide that.”

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