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U.S. Embassy in Yemen 'Not as Risk' From Houthi Rebels: Officials

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There are no current plans for a military evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Yemen, defense officials said Wednesday, despite unrest in which the presidential residence has been surrounded by rebel gunmen.

About 100 combat U.S. Marines are providing security at the Embassy in the capital, Sanaa, where Shi’ite Muslim Houthi fighters sympathetic to Iran have taken up guard at President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's home.

The State Department has not requested and there is still no active planning for a U.S. military airlift to evacuate the U.S. Embassy, a defense official said, saying the facility was “not at risk.”

“The Houthis do not pose a risk to Americans,” the official said.

However, officials stressed that an evacuation would be ordered if Americans come under serious threat.

Two U.S. Navy amphibious ships, the Iwo Jima and Fort McHenry, carrying tilt-rotor Ospreys, helicopters and Marine combat forces, are nearby in the Red Sea. A third, U.S.S. San Diego, is transiting south through the Red Sea but is on its way to the Indian Ocean.

American facilities in Yemen play a key role in intelligence-gathering and counter-terrorism operations against al Qaeda’s local affiliate.

IN-DEPTH

- Jim Miklaszewski and Alastair Jamieson

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