U.S. Marines in Kosovo
leave early, head to Suez

By Paul Sperry

WASHINGTON – Marine amphibious units participating in peacekeeping exercises in Kosovo have been ordered to pack up early and steam through the Suez Canal, WorldNetDaily has learned.

The three-ship “amphibious ready group,” or ARG, which carries about 2,000 Marines, is part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit participating in “Operation Dynamic Response” in Kosovo.

Another 2,000 Marines, members of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, are already in Kuwait conducting exercises near the Iraqi border.

MEUs, which include amphibious landing craft, helicopters and AV-8B Harrier aircraft, are rapid reaction forces that will be deployed early in an invasion of Iraq, which has a stretch of coastline on the Persian Gulf.

The ARG that’s part of the 24th MEU in the Mediterranean Sea was scheduled to start picking up Marines assigned to the Kosovo operation on Oct. 21, informed military sources tell WorldNetDaily.

But they say the captain of the USS Nassau, the ARG’s flagship, received orders last week to push up the loading date and transit the Suez Canal into the Red Sea, which is in the 5th Fleet’s Gulf area of operation.

“No real reason was given, except that the captain said that our presence on the other side of the canal was necessary earlier than expected,” said a member of the ARG.

After crossing the Suez, the ARG – which also has been tracking commercial vessels (such as one called “TARA”) suspected of having al-Qaida members on board, since passing through the Straits of Gibraltar early last month – may initially join “Operation Enduring Freedom” rather than “Operation Southern Watch,” informed sources say.

The Defense Department refused comment.

The 24th MEU came out prepped for war with a full-time chaplain and medical staff, sources say. Officer strength is above 100 percent.

The unit joins some 20 U.S. Navy ships, including two aircraft carrier battle groups, in the region – and within striking distance of Iraq.

The move is another sign that the Bush administration, despite recent talk of giving United Nations inspections another chance, is pushing ahead with its plans to attack Iraq.

Other indications include:

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