US warship headed to Libya: officials



WASHINGTON (AFP) – A US warship with hundreds of Marines on board headed towards Libya on Tuesday, defense officials said, as US and European allies sought to pile pressure on embattled leader Moamer Khadafi.

The USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship accompanied by two other naval vessels, was expected to pass through the Suez Canal soon from the Red Sea, two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

“We’re certainly moving assets to be closer (to Libya),” one of the defense officials said.

The Kearsarge amphibious ready group, with about 800 marines, a fleet of helicopters and medical facilities, could support humanitarian efforts as well as military operations.

“A ship like the Kearsage is capable of many types of missions,” the same official said.

US military leaders are preparing a range of options for President Barack Obama and holding discussions with their European counterparts, but the likelihood of military intervention remained unclear, the official said.

“I think it (the advice) goes from everything from a show of force to something more involved,” the official said, adding: “The president has made no decisions about the use of the military.”

Analysts say a symbolic show of force off the coast of Libya in and of itself could increase pressure on Khadafi but the official said the deployment of naval and air forces near Libya was not an empty gesture.

“There are sailors on ships heading that way, it’s real.”

An American aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise — which has fighter jets that could enforce a possible no-fly zone — could also be called upon for the Libya crisis. The carrier is currently in the north of the Red Sea, according to the US Navy’s website.

© AFPPublished at Activist Post with license

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