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USS George H.W. Bush USS George H.W. Bush  

Report: U.S. carrier sent to Syrian coast as tensions flare

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Will Rahn
Senior Editor

The USS George H.W. Bush, the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, has reportedly parked off the Syrian coast. The move comes as the U.S. embassy in Damascus urged Americans to “immediately” leave the country.

“The U.S. embassy continues to urge U.S. citizens in Syria to depart immediately while commercial transportation is available,” began a statement released Wednesday on the embassy website. “The number of airlines serving Syria has decreased significantly since the summer, while many of those airlines remaining have reduced their number of flights.”

In addition to urging citizens to leave the country, CBS News reports that Ambassador Robert Ford, who was recalled from Syria last month due to what the Obama administration called credible threats to his safety, will not return to the country later this month as planned.

Syria’s government has been strongly condemned by the international community following months of state-sponsored violence against political activists protesting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The violence is said to have left thousands dead in the country, which is a close ally of Iran and a sponsor of the Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah.

Adding to the sense of danger, Turkey, a NATO member and fierce critic of Assad’s government, recently warned its citizens to avoid traveling through the country after Syrian troops fired on at least two buses carrying Turkish Muslims returning from the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

Some Arab publications have reported this week that a no-fly zone will soon be put in place over Syria — similar to the one implemented over Libya last spring. And while such reports in the Arab press are often met with skepticism by western observers, the financial news service ZeroHedge flagged down a report from the respected private intelligence company Stratfor stating that CVN 77, better known as the George H.W. Bush, had left the strategically vital Straits of Hormuz for the Syrian coast.

The idea of imposing a no-fly zone over Syria — an increasingly hot topic in Washington, D.C. — was discussed at Tuesday’s CNN Republican debate. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has said he would “absolutely” propose a no-fly zone for the country, but when asked if they would do the same, other Republican presidential candidates remained hesitant.

“This is not the time for a no-fly zone over Syria,” said Romney.

UPDATE: Reuters reports that the George H.W. Bush will continue moving through the Mediterranean en route home to the United States.

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UPDATE: Reuters reports that the George H.W. Bush will continue moving through the Mediterranean en route home to the United States.