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Brian Luke Community Blogger, WGRZ-TV

Sunday, March 6, 2011

U.S. Military Aircraft Fly Egyptians Home By Cheryl Pellerin American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, March 5, 2011 - Four U.S. military aircraft flew 312 Egyptians home today from the Tunisia-Libya border where they fled to escape the violence that continues between government forces and rebels in Libya. U.S. Airmen with the 435th Air Mobility Squadron, from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, unload blankets, tarps and water containers provided by U.S. AID at Djerba Zarzis Airport in Tunisia. The U.S. government is working with the international community to meet the humanitarian needs of the Lybian people and others in the country who fled across the borders in recent political unrest. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Brendan Stephens (Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available. Two Marine Corps KC-130s and two Air Force C-130s supported the effort. U.S. Air Forces Africa, also known as 17th Air Force, based at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, flew the C-130s in the first rotation of U.S. military flights from Tunisia to Egypt, Navy Cmdr. Wendy Snyder, a Defense Department spokeswoman, told American Forces Press Service. Also, U.S. Africa Command, which oversees the effort and is based in Stuttgart, Germany, announced today on the social networking site, Twitter, "Two USMC KC-130s arrived safely in Cairo, flying 132 Egyptian nationals to Egypt from Tunisia." Two of the aircraft flew to Pisa, Italy, yesterday to pick up humanitarian aid supplies from the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance warehouse at Leghorn Army Depot. Donations included 2,000 blankets, 40 rolls of plastic sheeting and 9,600 10-liter plastic water containers. The aircraft landed with the supplies at Tunisia's Zarzis Airport in Djerba near sunset as aircraft from around the world participated in evacuation and humanitarian missions. Also yesterday, Naval Forces Europe Africa, which coordinates U.S. Navy support to Africom, established the joint task for Odyssey Dawn to provide tactical command and control for emergency evacuations, humanitarian relief, and future Africom missions in support of the U.S. government response to unrest in Libya. So far, six U.S. military aircraft are assigned to support humanitarian operations, using U.S. bases in Greece and Italy as hubs. The effort is part of a larger U.S. government emergency response directed by President Barack Obama. "The United States, and the entire world, continues to be outraged by the appalling violence against the Libyan people," Obama said during a March 3 news conference. "The United States is helping to lead an international effort to deter further violence, put in place unprecedented sanctions to hold the [Col. Moammar] Gadhafi government accountable, and support the aspirations of the Libyan people. We are also responding quickly to the urgent humanitarian needs that are developing," the president said. On the same day, Obama approved the use of U.S. military aircraft to help Egyptians who fled to the Tunisian border to get back home to Egypt, and other humanitarian efforts.

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