Thursday, January 29, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

US evacuates embassy in Libya amid clashes

United States-Libya

In this Sunday, July 13, 2014, file image made from video by The Associated Press, smoke rises from the direction of Tripoli airport in Tripoli, Libya. The United States shut down its embassy in Libya on Saturday, July 26, 2014, and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort amid a significant deterioration in security in Tripoli as fighting intensified between rival militias, the State Department said. (AP Photo/File)

By
From page A1 | July 27, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — The United States shuttered its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort as fighting intensified between rival militias. Secretary of State John Kerry said “free-wheeling militia violence” prompted the move.

American personnel at the Tripoli embassy, which had already been operating with limited staffing, left the capital around dawn and traveled by road to neighboring Tunisia, with U.S. fighter jets and other aircraft providing protection, the State Department said. The withdrawal underscored the Obama administration’s concern about the heightened risk to American diplomats abroad, particularly in Libya where memories of the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in the eastern city of Benghazi are still vivid.

The evacuation was accompanied by a new State Department travel warning for Libya urging Americans not to go to the country and recommending that those already there leave immediately. “The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security,” it said. “Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including anti-aircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation.”

Speaking Saturday in Paris where he was meeting with other diplomats on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Kerry said the U.S. remains committed to the diplomatic process in Libya despite the suspension of embassy activities there. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the evacuated employees will continue to work on Libyan issues in Tunis, elsewhere in North Africa and Washington.

“Securing our facilities and ensuring the safety of our personnel are top department priorities, and we did not make this decision lightly,” Harf said. “Security has to come first. Regrettably, we had to take this step because the location of our embassy is in very close proximity to intense fighting and ongoing violence between armed Libyan factions.”

The Pentagon said in statement that F-16 fighter jets and other U.S. aircraft provided security. “The mission was conducted without incident, and the entire operation lasted approximately five hours,” the statement said.

The State Department said embassy operations will be suspended until a determination is made that the security situation has improved. Tripoli has been embroiled for weeks in inter-militia violence that has killed and wounded dozens on all sides. The fighting has been particularly intense at the city’s airport.

“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.

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., the House Armed Services Committee chairman, expressed gratitude for the work of the U.S. forces that helped in the evacuation.

The move marks the second time in a little more than three years that Washington has closed its embassy in Libya. In February 2011, the embassy suspended operations during the uprising that eventually toppled longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi. After the formation of a transitional government in July 2011, the embassy reopened in September. Gadhafi was killed in October 2011.

The Obama administration has been particularly sensitive about security of U.S. government employees in Libya since the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in the country’s second largest city of Benghazi. The attack killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The administration is still fending off criticism from Republicans and others that it did not take the needed steps to enhance security in Benghazi or evacuate the mission due to rising violence in that city in the months prior to the attack.

The Benghazi mission was abandoned after that attack and never reopened. The embassy In Tripoli has been operating with reduced staff since but has remained open even as the violence intensified.

On Friday, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones appealed for fighting near the embassy to stop. “We have not been attacked but our neighborhood a bit 2 close to the action,” she tweeted. “Diplomatic missions 2 B avoided pls.” Jones had also tweeted about “heavy shelling and other exchanges” of fire in the vicinity of the embassy. Speculation about an evacuation had been rife at the State Department for more than a week.

Libya is now witnessing one of its worst spasms of violence since Gadhafi’s ouster. In Tripoli, the militias are fighting mostly for control of the airport. They are on the government’s payroll because authorities have depended on them to restore order.

The U.S. is the latest in a number of countries to have closed diplomatic operations in Libya. Turkey on Friday announced that it had shut its embassy and militia clashes in Benghazi have prompted the United Nations, aid groups and foreign envoys to leave.

In Tripoli, clashes near the international airport have forced residents to evacuate their homes nearby after they were hit by shells. On Friday, the official Libyan news agency LANA reported that explosions were heard early in the day near the airport area and continued into the afternoon.

The battle in Tripoli began earlier this month when Islamist-led militias – mostly from the western city of Misrata – launched a surprise assault on the airport, under control of rival militias from the western mountain town of Zintan. On Monday, a $113 million Airbus A330 passenger jet for Libya’s state-owned Afriqiyah Airways was destroyed in the fighting.

The rival militias, made up largely of former anti-Gadhafi rebels, have forced a weeklong closure of gas stations and government offices. In recent days, armed men have attacked vehicles carrying money from the Central Bank to local banks, forcing their closure.

Libyan government officials and activists have increasingly been targeted in the violence. Gunmen kidnapped two lawmakers in the western suburbs of Tripoli a week ago and on Friday armed men abducted Abdel-Moaz Banoun, a well-known Libyan political activist in Tripoli, according to his father.

An umbrella group for Islamist militias, called the Operation Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries, said in a brief statement on its Facebook page on Friday that “troops arrested Abdel-Moaz over allegations that he served under Gadhafi” and “instigated rallies against” the Islamists.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
1st release for birds with mysterious goo a success

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Travis starts work on Functional Fitness Center

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Boy Scouts to screen award-winning film

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Church makes ready for health, wellness fair

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
4-H Annual Presentation Day returns in February

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Vacaville SWAT team serves search warrant

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

 
Real estate occupancy continues to climb

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Council backs beer, wine sales for Vacaville store

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Vacaville police seek help to find sex offender

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Sweep by sheriff’s team nets 4 arrests

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 3 Comments

Fairfield police log: Jan. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
Suisun City police log: Jan. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

.

US / World

 
Air Force probing alleged ‘treason’ remark by general

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Expect tiny tuxes but no real puppy love at doggy weddings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Second arrest in student stabbing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Large salmon release planned

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Violations mount for toxic recycler

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Quake rattles N. California coast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Attorney General nominee defends Obama immigration changes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

Police seek law to alter Google app

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Marshals track down missing treasure hunter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

‘Drunk’ excuse falls flat in Vandy rape trial

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Euro coast guards scramble to locate Syrian ghost ship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Chinese regulators go after online sale of fake goods

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Investigation stems from police-involved shooting outbreak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Hezbollah missiles kill soldiers

By New York Times | From Page: A6

 
ISIS extends hostage deadline

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Tape: Scientist offers to build nuke bomb targeting New York

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

India now has 322 billion reasons to fix economy

By William Pesek | From Page: A7

 
Don’t brush off bullying

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 29, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Just be honest and come forward

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
A truly misinformed writer

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 23 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Jan. 29, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Jan. 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Deadbeat boyfriend ruined my relationship with my granddaughter

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscope Jan. 29, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Theater legend Joel Grey reveals that he is gay

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 2 Comments

 
Super Bowl advertisers aim not to offend

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

.

Sports

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins hoping to make All-Star team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Rodriguez wrestlers pull out 34-24 win over Wood

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
GM John Schneider has been architect of Seahawks’ success

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Patriots not dwelling on last Super Bowl loss in Arizona

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Woods returns to Phoenix with plenty of memories

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Tony Stewart acquires national sprint car series tour

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Solano men cruise past LMC for biggest win of season

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

NFL players who started young show more thinking problems

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Korda, Lewis, Munoz tied for lead at LPGA season opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Head of NCAA enforcement: Academic misconduct on rise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Chicago Cubs’ Ernie Banks statue moved downtown for tribute

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Kobe Bryant has surgery, expected to be out for 9 months

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
This date in sports history for Jan. 29, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Joseph Phillip Raiff

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Dzhon Athanc

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9