US deploys Marine anti-terrorism unit to Haiti to protect embassy

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A Marine anti-terrorism unit has now been deployed to protect the American embassy in Haiti, U.S. military officials say, as violent gangs continue to generate unrest in the Caribbean nation’s capital. 

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.” 

“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. 

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.  

CONGRESSMAN EVACUATES 10 AMERICANS FROM CRIME-RAVAGED HAITI, SLAMS BIDEN FOR ‘PATTERN OF ABANDONMENT’ 

US embassy Haiti

A police officer guards the entrance of the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Sunday, March 10.
(AP/Odelyn Joseph)

In a briefing on Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said he did not have a firm number on the total number of Americans still in Haiti who are trying to leave.  

The deployment of a multinational force to Haiti with a price tag of $100 million was announced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken following a meeting with Caribbean leaders in Jamaica on Monday.  

US ANNOUNCES $100 MILLION FOR DEPLOYMENT OF MULTINATIONAL FORCE TO VIOLENCE-STRICKEN HAITI 

Gunfire in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Pedestrians run for cover after hearing gunshots in Port-au-Prince, on Thursday, March 7. (AP/Odelyn Joseph)

Blinken also announced another $33 million in humanitarian aid and the creation of a joint proposal agreed on by Caribbean leaders and “all of the Haitian stakeholders to expedite a political transition,” according to the Associated Press. 

But Haitian gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier said Monday that “Haitian people will choose who will govern them,” according to The Associated Press. 

The meeting in Jamaica was organized by members of a regional trade bloc known as Caricom, which for months has pressed for a transitional government in Haiti while protests in the country have demanded Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s resignation. Henry said Tuesday that he would step down after a transitional presidential council is established. 

Haiti gang

Masked members of the “G9 and Family” gang stand guard during a press conference by their leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier in Port-au-Prince in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, March 5. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

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Powerful gangs continue to attack key government targets across Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince. Since Feb. 29, gunmen have burned police stations, closed the main international airports and raided the country’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates. 

Fox News’ Pilar Arias, Peter Aitken and The Associated Press contributed to this report.