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Citing violence, U.S. vacates Libyan embassy

Saturday - 7/26/2014, 3:15pm  ET

John Kerry (AP)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to reporters before his meeting with Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu regarding a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, Saturday, July 26, 2014, at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Paris, France. With a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza Saturday, Kerry is continuing with efforts to reach a longer truce between Israel and Hamas. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. State Department has pulled all American personnel from its embassy in Libya after fighting between opposing militias grew more severe, according to a statement released Saturday.

In a statement from the State Department, the fighting occurred within the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, which caused the U.S. to move its personnel out of Libya.

"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 in the statement. "In the interim, staff will operate from Washington and other posts in the region.

"Security has to come first," Harf continued. "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 relocation was done by land; the state's personnel arrived in Tunisia Saturday morning and traveled on from there.

The state has vacated Libya two times in three years.

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