|Christl Leong |||Jul 26, 2014 10:58 PM EDT|
(Photo : REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)
Washington announced on Saturday that it has evacuated its personnel from its embassy in Tripoli as hostilities steadily reached the Libyan capital.
The embassy personnel were driven from Tripoli to Tunisia. U.S. military fighter planes, surveillance aircrafts and forces in V-22 tilt rotor jets followed the procession to safeguard and defend against any potential threats.
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Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the evacuation was conducted in about five hours. It was completed successfully with no incident.
The embassy's Marine Corps security forces were also relocated as per the embassy's request, he added.
Marie Harf, spokeswoman for the State department, said the move was temporary as it responded to protect its personnel from clashes between Libyan militants as it moved in the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Embassy, adding that the move was not triggered by a specific threat.
Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Paris before a meeting with officials from Qatar and Turkey, said the embassy would reopen as soon as it was deemed safe to do so. He added that the evacuated personnel would continue their work from diplomatic groups in Tunisia.
Communications between the U.S. and Libya would be coursed through the British embassy in Tripoli and other assisting foreign embassies in the region.
In September 2012, the Obama administration had taken heat for not being able to respond quickly when Libyan extremists had infiltrated the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. The incident had led to the deaths of four Americans including U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.
As the fighting moves to its capital in Tripoli, foreign firms are moving to evacuate their personnel, the Wall Street Journal reported. Rocket fire, fuel shortages, and water and power cuts have already been observed in the capital.
U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office had also urged its citizens to avoid travelling to Libya and advised its expatriates to leave the country as soon as possible.
While Republican lawmakers were relieved over the safe evacuation of its personnel in Libya, they couldn't help but critique the administration's foreign policy as they cited its lack of direction and follow through after it ousted Libya's former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said the situation it was predictable how the situation turned out given the administration's lack of leadership and direction.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said he was pleased the evacuation went smoothly. He noted the deteriorating security in Eurasia, the Middle East and in much of North Africa, citing the government's unclear foreign policies and alluded to the U.S.' lack of leadership in these areas.
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