A ship carrying a special U.S. Marine force left Japan Wednesday for Somalia, where it will join other American forces to help withdraw U.N. peacekeepers
from the troubled African nation, a U.S. Forces Japan spokesman said.
The helicopter assault ship Belleau Wood left the Japanese island of Okinawa and was expected to join a three-ship task force headed by the amphibious assault ship Essex off Somalia early next month.The United States planned to send an "overwhelming" force of 2,600 Marines, backed by warplanes and attack helicopters, to support the final withdrawal of all U.N. troops from Somalia by the end of March, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.
The U.N. Security Council agreed Nov. 4 to end the Somalia mission and withdraw its remaining 9,000 troops by March 31.