US Evacuates Embassy In Libya Amid Militia Clashes, Urges All US Citizens To Leave Libya

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Libya airport clashes Smoke rises over the Airport Road area after heavy fighting between rival militias broke out near the airport in Tripoli July 25, 2014.

The U.S. Embassy in Libya evacuated all personnel on Saturday using war planes and spy aircraft. About 150 people, including 80 U.S. Marines were driven from Tripoli to Tunisia in the early morning, according to CNN.

"Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, we have temporarily relocated all of our personnel out of Libya," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement.

According to CNN, the evacuation took place with the help of two F-16s on combat air patrol overhead, a drone tracking the convoy and a Navy destroyer in the Mediterranean.

Since the 2011 revolution that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has grown increasingly dangerous as heavily armed rebel militias get more and more fragmented and continue to fight each other for control. The situation on the ground is fluid in that the number of rebel groups fighting each other continues to change as allegiances are born and broken.

Also on Saturday, the State Department issued a travel warning urging all U.S. citizens to leave Libya immediately.

“The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable,” the warning said. “The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution.”

On Friday, Turkey closed its embassy and removed about 700 personnel from the country. Fighting and the closure of the Tripoli International Airport earlier this month prompted the United Nations to pull out their employees in Benghazi and Tripoli.

However, the U.S. said that operations in Libya are just “suspended,” and will resume when the situation is deemed stable.

“We are committed to supporting the Libyan people during this challenging time and are currently exploring options for a permanent return to Tripoli as soon as the security situation on the ground improves,” Harf said. “In the interim, staff will operate from Washington and other posts in the region." 

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