NBC News reports more than 150 Americans today were evacuated from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, Libya, as violence in the region intensified between rival factions.
"The U.S. together with other countries have decided that because of the freewheeling militia violence that is taking place particularly around the embassy ... it presents a real risk to our personnel," Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters during a trip to France. Kerry clarified that the violence was taking place near the embassy “but not on the embassy,” and diplomatic activities there were suspended, not halted.
American officials told NBC News that the 158 Americans, including 80 heavily armed U.S. Marines, left the embassy compound early Saturday in a caravan of SUV's and buses and drove west toward neighboring Tunisia.
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby issued the following statement after the evacuation was complete:
“At the request of the Department of State, the U.S. military assisted in the relocation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya on Saturday, July 26.
"All embassy personnel were relocated, including the Marine security guards who were providing security at the embassy and during the movement.
"The embassy staff was driven in vehicles to Tunisia.
"During movement, F-16's, ISR assets and an Airborne Response Force with MV-22 Ospreys provided security.
"The mission was conducted without incident, and the entire operation lasted approximately five hours."