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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Hurricane Irma forces evacuation at Centcom headquarters in Florida

MacDill airbase in Tampa, Florida, hosts around 18,000 military and civilian personnel, including Centcom that directs and oversees the military operations against ISIL in the Middle East

A man rides his bike on Bayshore Boulevard as palm trees begin to feel the wind in Tampa, Florida, on September 10, 2017, where Tampa residents are fleeing the evacuation zones ahead of Hurricane Irma's landfall. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON
A man rides his bike on Bayshore Boulevard as palm trees begin to feel the wind in Tampa, Florida, on September 10, 2017, where Tampa residents are fleeing the evacuation zones ahead of Hurricane Irma's landfall. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON

The airbase hosting the headquarters of the US Central Command was evacuated of its staff and planes with the exception of mission personnel as hurricane Irma veered into the area.

MacDill airbase in Tampa, Florida, hosts around 18,000 military and civilian personnel, including Centcom that directs and oversees the military operations against ISIL in the Middle East.

“While the path of Irma is uncertain, our commitment is to the safety of our military members, employees and their families," Colonel April Vogel the Commander of 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base said. The evacuation was ordered on Friday and all service at the airbase ceased on Saturday evening.

It was not clear what impact the evacuation would have on military operations, as airstrikes and press releases continued from Centcom on Saturday, including operations in the Khabur River valley in Syria.

Centcom and US military also operate from airbases in the Middle East that have continued their coordination efforts.

The mandatory evacuation is expected to last at least until end of Monday and could be extended depending on Irma's impact and the level of flooding in the area.

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