U.S. military to deliver relief supplies to Beirut after explosion

The U.S. military will deliver three planeloads of relief supplies such as food, water and medicine to Lebanon to help victims of the deadly explosion in Beirut this week.

Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, informed his Lebanese counterpart, Lebanon Armed Forces Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun, of the shipment in a phone call, according to a Thursday news release.

McKenzie expressed condolences for the loss of life and devastation caused by the explosion, and U.S. willingness to continue to work with the LAR to help provide aid and assistance, according to the release.

There were initially conflicting reports about what caused the explosion, which killed 150 people and wounded 5,000. Officials initially blamed a major fire at a fireworks warehouse near the port. Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab later said the blast was caused by 2,750 metric tons of a volatile substance called ammonium nitrate, a type of agricultural fertilizer, which had been stored since 2014 at a warehouse in the port without adequate safety measures.

President Donald Trump added to the confusion on Tuesday when he said he met with “some of our great generals,” who “just seem to feel” that it was an attack using “a bomb of some kind.” He doubled down on the remarks on Wednesday, saying that “I’ve heard it both ways … it could have been an accident, and it also could’ve been something very offensive.”

However, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday that most officials believed it was an accident, adding that the U.S. would soon be sending humanitarian aid to Lebanon.


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