International C‑17s Fly Aid to Beirut Following Explosion

 In U.S. Air Force, Egypt and the Levant, Defense, Air, GCC, Forces & Capabilities

Three U.S. Air Force C‑17s, plus anoth­er from the multi­na­tion­al Strategic Airlift Capability group, on Aug. 6 began car­ry­ing aid to Lebanon after a mas­sive explo­sion in Beirut’s port killed at least 135 people and injured thou­sands more.

The three Globemaster IIIs from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, began flying food, water, and med­ical sup­plies to Lebanon in response to the Aug. 4 explo­sion.

U.S. Central Command boss Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. has expressed his con­do­lences to Lebanon Armed Forces Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun and shared his “will­ing­ness to con­tin­ue to work with the Lebanese Armed Forces to help pro­vide aid and assis­tance to meet the needs of the Lebanese people during this ter­ri­ble tragedy,” accord­ing to an Aug. 6 CENTCOM statement.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman told reporters during an Aug. 6 brief­ing that CENTCOM is work­ing with the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to ensure that the aid gets to the Lebanese people who need it, and that the Lebanese mil­i­tant orga­ni­za­tion Hezbollah will not ben­e­fit.

The depart­ment is “opti­mistic and hope­ful that this is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for all those who want to see a better out­come for the Lebanese people” after the dis­as­ter, Hoffman said.

A C‑17 from the Strategic Airlift Capability — a multi­na­tion­al group includ­ing the U.S. that flies the trans­port jet out of Hungary — brought a search-and-rescue team and 14 tons of equip­ment to Beirut within 24 hours of the ini­tial request, the pro­gram said on Twitter.

Lebanon’s inves­ti­ga­tion into the dis­as­ter points to about 2,750 tons of highly explo­sive ammo­ni­um nitrate that was long stored at a ware­house in the port, accord­ing to the Associated Press.

President Donald J. Trump told reporters short­ly after the inci­dent that unnamed gen­er­als believed an attack or a bomb were behind the blast. Hoffman, respond­ing to mul­ti­ple ques­tions on the issue, said “dif­fer­ent infor­ma­tion” came to light in the days after the explo­sion, and the U.S. has not set­tled on a defin­i­tive expla­na­tion for the inci­dent.

Air Force Magazine source|articles

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