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US embassy in Lebanon evacuating non-essential staff

By AFP - Sep 06,2013 - Last updated at Sep 06,2013

BEIRUT - The US embassy in Beirut said Friday its non-essential staff and family members are being evacuated from Lebanon  because of "threats to US mission facilities and personnel."

"On September 6 2013, the Department of State drew down non-emergency personnel and family members from Embassy Beirut due to threats to US mission facilities and personnel," a statement on the embassy website said.

There were no details on any specific threats to the embassy or information on how many people were affected by the decision.

The move comes as US President Barack Obama presses Congress to authorise military strikes against neighbouring Syria in response to an alleged August 21 chemical weapons attack Washington has blamed on the regime.

The potential strikes have raised the prospect of regional repercussions, including by Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement, which is allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The US State Department has already warned US citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon and recommended those in the country make plans to leave.

The conflict in Syria has increasingly spilled over into Lebanon, which is also hosting more than 700,000 refugees who have fled the violence.

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