Washington: The US Saturday shut down its embassy in Libya and evacuated its personnel to neighbouring Tunisia as clashes between rival militias in the country`s capital Tripoli posed a "very real risk".
"A lot of the violence is around our embassy -- but not on the embassy -- but nevertheless presents a very real risk to our personnel," US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Paris where he is holding a meeting with other top diplomats from Europe and the Middle East to press efforts for a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
The State Department Deputy Spokesperson, Marie Harf, said that the relocation was done over land, with their personnel arriving in Tunisia this morning, and travelling onward from there.
The Pentagon Press Secretary, Rear Adm John Kirby, said 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," Kirby said, adding that the mission was conducted without incident, and the entire operation lasted approximately five hours.
In a travel warning, the US warned its citizens against travelling to Libya and recommended the citizens currently in Libya to depart immediately.
"On July 26, the US Embassy suspended all embassy operations in Libya and relocated staff, due to ongoing violence between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the Embassy," the travel warning said.
Harf said the US will continue to engage all Libyans and the international community to seek a peaceful resolution to the current conflict and to advance Libya`s democratic transition.
"We reiterate that Libyans must immediately cease hostilities and begin negotiations to resolve their grievances. We join the international community in calling on all Libyans to respect the will of the people, including the authority of the recently-elected Council of Representatives, and to reject the use of violence to affect political processes," she said.
"Many brave Libyans sacrificed to advance their country toward a more secure and prosperous future. We continue to stand solidly by the Libyan people as they endeavour to do so," Harf said.