US to pull Americans from Lebanon with ‘Wasp’ assault ship and F-35 jets amid fears of war between Hezbollah & Israel

THE US is gearing up to evacuate American civilians from inside Lebanon for fear of an all-out war with Israel across its southern border.

American amphibious warship USS Wasp and a unit of Marines moved out to the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday, defence officials revealed.

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Amphibious warship USS Wasp is now stationed in the Mediterranean Sea – to the east of Israel and Lebanon
Marines on their way to board a helicopter for take off from assault carrier USS Wasp

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Marines on their way to board a helicopter for take off from assault carrier USS WaspCredit: AP:Associated Press
Hezbollah fighters carry out a training exercise in Aaramta village in the Jezzine District of Lebanon

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Hezbollah fighters carry out a training exercise in Aaramta village in the Jezzine District of Lebanon
Smoke rises following attacks from Lebanon close to the Israeli border

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Smoke rises following attacks from Lebanon close to the Israeli border

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Their forces will join USS Oak Hill, already docked in the Middle Eastern waters, alongside a third ship which is ready and waiting for action.

Three US defence officials and a former American official told NBC the Wasp had been sent out to the eastern Mediterranean to prepare for a Military Assisted Departure.

The Marines are trained in helping people flee turbulent environments and the Wasp can even deploy long-range F-35 stealth fighter jets if need be.

Alongside the Marine Expeditionary Unit, the US presence out there is designed to act as a deterrent against escalating tensions in the region.

Violent tit-for-tat attacks across the border between Israel and Lebanon have rocketed in recent weeks.

Iranian-backed terror proxy Hezbollah operates out of Lebanon, and has tried to unleash hell across the boundary for months since October 7.

Allied with its fellow Iran-favoured group Hamas, Hezbollah is just as anti-West and anti-Israel – but bigger.

The chances of such exchanges sparking a full blown armed conflict are growing increasingly likely as the days pass.

America fears Israel may carry out airstrikes and a ground offensive inside Lebanon in just weeks, the US officials warned.

And despite pressure from Israel’s greatest ally – the US – Biden’s pleas for restraint have fallen on deaf ears.

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s forces plan to forge a 10-mile buffer zone above their northern border with Lebanon, pushing back Hezbollah.

If a diplomatic path to achieving this fails, they are willing to use force.

An Israeli official said the goal is to put an end to violent skirmishes across the border which have displaced tens of thousands of Israelis for fear of their safety.

One Middle East expert told The Sun that Israel is now more focused on tackling the Iran-backed threat in Lebanon than defeating the Gaza-based Hamas.

Speaking to The Sun from Jerusalem, Professor Kaufman, said: “We may be facing a situation where Hezbollah units could try and cross the border in order to take some territory from Israel, just as Israeli forces might do in Lebanon.”

He told us “their elite force has been training for that possible scenario” for years.

Hezbollah is thought to have 30,000 to 50,000 fighters and between 120,000 and 200,000 missiles, rockets, attack and reconnaissance drones.

They are thought to be the world’s biggest and most powerful non-state military force.

Only days ago Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah threatened a war with “no restraint and no rules and no ceilings” if Israel were to launch an offensive.

In a disturbing warning he said Israel should be “scared” and told the world they had “new weapons” ready to go.

It came less than a week after Taleb Abdullah was killed in an Israeli strike – the most senior Hezbollah commander to be taken out since October.

Israeli officials say they are prepared to go to war with Hezbollah – but the country is already embroiled in a conflict where tens of thousands of people have died.

Netanyahu’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, has promised that an explicit decision on “all-out war” with the group is coming soon.

Without a ceasefire in Gaza, tensions between the two are unlikely to dissipate.

The war in Gaza has been raging for more than eight months.

The USS Wasp is equipped to deploy F-35B Lightning II jets - one is pictured here landing on its flight deck at sea

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The USS Wasp is equipped to deploy F-35B Lightning II jets – one is pictured here landing on its flight deck at seaCredit: Handout – Getty

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