Libyan rebels fighting for Operation Dawn, a coalition of Islamist and Misrata forces, stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli Sunday, breaking into its buildings and swimming in its pools, as shown in a video on YouTube.
Al Arabiya reports Libyan Islamist militia storm U.S. embassy compound in Tripoli. Embassy evacuated month ago. #Libya
â€” Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) August 31, 2014
The U.S. closed its embassy in June and evacuated its staff amid escalating violence between rival militias, the government and forces fighting for renegade Gen. Khalifa Hifter. The general, who is originally from the eastern part of the country, formerly supported the toppled Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi, but turned against him during the war with Chad in the 1980s. Hifter has gathered forces, mostly in the eastern part of the nation, and aims to rid Lbya of extreme Islamist rebel groups.
For the past two months, rebel factions have engaged in deadly battles at Tripoli airport. Last week the fighting ended as Islamist-affiliated forces from Misrata and other cities took over the airport from the Zintan militia, which held it for three years. According to the BBC, hundreds have died since the fighting at the airport broke out in July.
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There are varying reports about which buildings had been seized by the rebels. Some activists on the ground report the rebels have reached the main U.S. Embassy building, while others claim the rebels are occupying a smaller compound.
— Assia Amry (@Libyan4life) August 31, 2014
The Associated Press reported Sunday that the rebel group may have been in control of the embassy buildings since last week.
The event comes just one week after the United Arab Emirates, in cooperation with Egypt, launched airstrikes in Tripoli to target Islamist militias, purportedly without the permission or notification of the U.S. Following the airstrikes, the UAE arrested 30 Libyan nationals, including an Al Jazeera employee. So far, the UAE has yet to confirm the arrests or provide an explanation.