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Libyan Militia Takes Control of Vacant US Embassy Annex in Tripoli


A member of the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) Islamist militia stands at the gym of a villa at the U.S. diplomatic compound after members of the group moved into the complex of several villas in southern Tripoli to prevent it from being looted, Aug. 31, 2014.

An Islamist militia group in Libya said it has taken control of the residential annex, but have not gone into the main compound, of the vacated U.S. embassy in Tripoli, a month after American diplomats fled to escape the violent clashes between rival militias in the Libyan capital.

News agencies reported Sunday that Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn), an umbrella group for Islamist militias, said it has been in control of the U.S. compound for a week, seizing it from a rival militia after weeks of fighting for control of Tripoli and its international airport.

The Dubai-based Al Arabiya network aired a video showing militia fighters jumping from a roof into the swimming pool at the U.S. facility.

U.S. ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones said the video appeared to have been shot in the embassy's residential annex. She said the embassy appears to be safeguarded and not ransacked.

It was not immediately known how close the annex, apparently made up of diplomatic residences, is to the embassy itself or exactly when the place was seized.

'Residential annex'

Jones, who is in Malta, stressed however that the area depicted in the video "appears to be a residential annex" of the U.S. mission, adding that she "cannot say definitively since not there."

U.S. envoys fled to neighboring Tunisia in late July to avoid the clashes in Tripoli, with the U.S. saying it would suspend embassy operations until security could be assured.

Increasing violence has wracked Libya in the three years since long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi was toppled.

A takeover of the embassy compound could deliver another symbolic blow to Washington over its policy toward Libya, which Western governments fear is teetering toward becoming a failed state just three years after a NATO-backed war ended Gadhafi's rule.

Security in Libya is an especially sensitive subject for the United States because of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, in which militants killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Meanwhile, rival legislative assemblies, one in Tripoli and one 1,500 kilometers away in Tobruk, have selected their own prime ministers to run the country.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.