Washington: The Pentagon is dispatching three military aircraft, along with two other planes filled with fire retardant, this weekend to help combat raging wildfires in northern Israel that have killed 41 people.
Three US Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard C-130 Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) aircraft are scheduled to depart the United States for Israel, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said in a statement overnight Friday.
Another two US European Command C-130 military cargo planes transporting 2- tonnes of fire retardant will take off from Ramstein Air Base in Germany to arrive over the weekend in Israel.
USAID has also chartered commercial aircraft to deliver 45 tonnes of Fire-Troll fire retardant and 12,000 liters (3,170 gallons) of WD881 Class A foam.
The aid agency is also deploying a team of experts to "join with their Israeli counterparts to help combat the fires," USAID said.
The United States stands prepared to provide additional assistance should it be necessary."
US President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to express his "deepest condolences" for the "tragic loss of life" from the fires, the White House said.
He also vowed a "full court press" to help in the firefighting effort.
The biggest inferno in Israel`s history was still consuming swathes of land on Saturday, with little sign Israeli and foreign firefighters were winning the battle to contain it. More than 17,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.
As the fire raged for a third straight day, Israel`s fire and rescue chief Shimon Romeah said they were still some way off from harnessing the blaze.
"At this stage, we are still far from controlling the fire. It is not us controlling the fire, (it is) the fire which is controlling us," he told army radio.