UK pulls some embassy staff from Lebanon over security fears

Families withdrawn 'due to security situation' amid cross-border fire with Israel

Riot police used tear gas against demonstrators near the US embassy in Lebanon last month. AP
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Britain has withdrawn some embassy staff out of Lebanon due to fears the Israel-Gaza conflict could escalate.

All the families of embassy staff have also been temporarily withdrawn “due to the security situation”, the Foreign Office said on Monday.

It said the embassy was still carrying out “essential work” for British citizens in Lebanon.

The development comes amid cross-border fire between Lebanon and Israel in which a woman and her three grandchildren were killed in southern Lebanon on Sunday.

The UK government says tension is high and events “could escalate with little warning”, possibly limiting routes out of Lebanon.

It warned of possible civil unrest and “ongoing mortar and artillery exchanges and air strikes” in the south.

Cabinet Minister Claire Coutinho, representing the government on morning television, said preventing an escalation was the focus of Britain's diplomatic efforts.

Asked why people were being brought out of Lebanon, she said: “Everything that we’ve done has been to try to protect British nationals and make sure that we are, as I say, de-escalating things in the region.”

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned on Friday that “all options are open” regarding Lebanon's involvement in the conflict.

Britain formally advised against travel to Lebanon on October 18 and encouraged people to leave while commercial routes remain available.

It advised against all travel to Gaza, the occupied West Bank and parts of Israel affected by fighting, and all but essential travel to the rest of Israel.

Some staff at an embassy in Tel Aviv and consulate in Jerusalem were also withdrawn.

Updated: November 06, 2023, 9:28 AM