Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Islamist militia now guards US Embassy in Libya

Published:Monday | September 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP):AN ISLAMIST-ALLIED militia group in control of Libya's capital now guards the US Embassy and its residential compound, a commander said Sunday, as onlookers toured the abandoned homes of diplomats who fled the country more than a month ago.

An Associated Press journalist saw holes left by small-arms and rocket fire dotting the residential compound, remainders of weeks of violence between rival militias over control of Tripoli that sparked the evacuation.

The breach of a deserted US diplomatic post - including images of men earlier swimming in the compound's algae-filled pools - likely will reinvigorate debate in the US over its role in Libya, more than three years after supporting rebels who toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi. It also comes just before the two-year anniversary of the slaying of US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya.

A commander for the Dawn of Libya group, Moussa Abu-Zaqia, told the AP that his forces had been guarding the residential compound since last week, a day after it had seized control of the capital and its international airport after weeks of fighting with a rival militia. Abu-Zaqia said the rival militia from Zintan was in the compound before his troops took it over.

Some windows at the compound had been broken, but it appeared most of the equipment there remained untouched. The AP journalist saw treadmills, weight benches and protein bars in the compound's abandoned gym. Forks, knives and napkins set for a banquet sat on one table, while a cantina still had cornflakes, vinegar, salt, and pepper sitting out.