US Marine anti-terrorism unit is on the ground in Haiti, officials say

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A specialized Marine anti-terrorism unit is on the ground in Haiti on Thursday to help protect the American embassy and potentially evacuate personnel, the U.S. Southern Command tells Fox News. 

The development comes as the Commander of U.S. Southern Command, Gen. Laura Richardson, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a hearing this morning that U.S. SOUTHCOM is prepared for a noncombatant evacuation operation of U.S. personnel in Haiti if required.  

“We’re ready at any time for any type of crisis,” Richardson said, adding that “we put in all of the necessary measures… for any of the plans to be activated.” 

The U.S. Southern Command said in a statement early Wednesday that at the request of the State Department, it deployed a “U.S. Marine Fleet-Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) to maintain strong security capabilities at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and conduct relief in place for our current Marines, a common and routine practice worldwide.”  

WHO IS ‘BARBECUE,’ THE GANG LEADER WREAKING HAVOC IN HAITI? 

Police in Haiti

National Police stand guard outside the empty National Penitentiary after a small fire inside in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday. This is the same facility that armed gangs stormed on March 2 and where hundreds of inmates escaped.

“The U.S. Embassy remains open, and limited operations continue, focused on assistance to U.S. citizens and supporting Haitian-led efforts to secure a peaceful transition of power,” it added.  

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Thursday that he did not have an estimate as to how many Americans are in Haiti. 

“We always plan for all sorts of contingencies, but no, we are not actively planning for any evacuation,” Miller also said. “And I would remind… that Haiti has been a level four country with respect to our travel advisories since 2020. So what that means is for four years we have been telling Americans do not go to Haiti, do not travel there, it’s not safe to do so. And for those who are there, leave as soon as you can feasibly do so without putting yourself at risk.”

The U.S. military already has sent forces to Haiti over the weekend to bolster security at the U.S. Embassy and airlifted non-essential personnel — such as family of diplomats — who had remained after an order for such individuals to evacuate last summer.   

BLINKEN SAYS CRISIS IN HAITI IS ‘LONG UNFOLDING STORY’ AS US PLEDGES MILLIONS TO HELP STABILIZE COUNTRY 

US embassy Haiti

A police officer guards the entrance of the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Sunday. (AP/Odelyn Joseph)

Tensions remain high in Haiti on Thursday as gangs have overrun the country. Haiti Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced Tuesday that he will resign, bowing to international pressure to do so. In a statement, Henry agreed to leave office once a transitional presidential council is created and an interim prime minister is named.  

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said the crisis in Haiti “has been a long unfolding story” that will require coordination from the international community to solve. 

The suffering of the Haitian people, Blinken said, can only be solved by a functioning democracy as well as humanitarian and developmental assistance to rebuild the economy.   

Armed gang member

An armed member of the G9 and Family gang patrols a roadblock in the Delmas 6 neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Monday.  (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

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However, some political parties within Haiti are coming out in opposition to the transitional presidential council plan, The Associated Press reported Thursday. 

Fox News’ Gillian Turner, Peter Aitken, Lawrence Richard and Bradford Betz contributed to this report. 

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