Yemen: Royal Marines on standby to evacuate Britons

Posted by on Jun 07, 2011 | 1 Comment

Eighty Royal Marines are on standby off the coast of Yemen to assist with the possible evacuation of British civilians, the BBC has learned.

The marines are thought to be aboard a naval support ship, RFA Fort Victoria, near Yemen, according to naval sources.

The Ministry of Defence said British military assets were in the region but it would not comment on their exact operational task.

Yemen has been affected by weeks of political instability and violence.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled since 1978, has refused to leave office despite protests and a tribal uprising which has brought the country to the brink of civil war and resulted in more than 350 deaths.

According to naval sources, as well as Fort Victoria, another support vessel, RFA Argus has also been operating in the region near Yemen, but is being replaced by the RFA Cardigan Bay, an auxiliary landing ship, which is on its way.

The ships are all part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group, which has been carrying out exercises mainly in the Mediterranean, but which has been on standby for various contingencies.

The Ministry of Defence has said only that, as part of routine deployment, British military assets are in the region.

Power transfer

Eighty Royal Marines are on standby off the coast of Yemen to assist with the possible evacuation of British civilians, the BBC has learned.

The marines are thought to be aboard a naval support ship, RFA Fort Victoria, near Yemen, according to naval sources.

The Ministry of Defence said British military assets were in the region but it would not comment on their exact operational task.

Yemen has been affected by weeks of political instability and violence.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled since 1978, has refused to leave office despite protests and a tribal uprising which has brought the country to the brink of civil war and resulted in more than 350 deaths.

According to naval sources, as well as Fort Victoria, another support vessel, RFA Argus has also been operating in the region near Yemen, but is being replaced by the RFA Cardigan Bay, an auxiliary landing ship, which is on its way.

The ships are all part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group, which has been carrying out exercises mainly in the Mediterranean, but which has been on standby for various contingencies.

The Ministry of Defence has said only that, as part of routine deployment, British military assets are in the region.

Power transfer

Marines are thought to be aboard naval support ship, RFA Fort Victoria, near Yemen

 

At the weekend, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on the Foreign Office website he was worried about the situation in Yemen.

He urged any remaining Britons in the country – who are thought to number a few hundred – to leave immediately while commercial flights were still operating.

He reiterated advice first made on 12 March, said it was “unlikely” the UK would be able to evacuate stranded nationals, and told people not to plan for government assistance.

Another ship in the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group, the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, has been used as the launching pad for four Apache helicopters operating against targets in Libya.

A fifth Apache is expected to join the ship later in the week.

Earlier, Yemen’s main opposition coalition said it would accept a transfer of power to Vice-President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, after he stepped in when Mr Saleh left Saudi Arabia for medical treatment following an attack on his compound in Sanaa last week.

Otherwise, the opposition leaders said, they would seek to form a transitional government.

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