TRIPOLI, Libya – An Islamist-allied militia group in control of Libya’s capital now guards the U.S. 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.
The breach of a deserted U.S. diplomatic post likely will reinvigorate debate in the U.S. 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 U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya.
A commander for the Dawn of Libya group, Moussa Abu-Zaqia, told the Associated Press that his forces had been guarding the residential compound since last week, a day after it seized control of the capital and its international airport after weeks of fighting with a rival militia.
Some windows at the compound had been broken, but it appeared most of the equipment there remained untouched. An Associated Press journalist saw treadmills, weight benches and protein bars in the compound’s abandoned gym. A cantina still had cornflakes, vinegar, salt and pepper sitting out. Some papers lay strewn on the floor, but it didn’t appear that the villas in the compound had been ransacked.
Hassan Ali, a Dawn of Libya commander, said his fighters saw small fires and a little damage before they chased the rival Zintan militia away.
We entered and put some of our fighters to secure this place and we preserved this place as much as we could, he said.
Abu-Zaqia said his militia had asked cleaners to come to spruce up the grounds. He added that the U.S. Embassy staff are most welcome in God’s blessing, and any area that is controlled by Dawn of Libya is totally secure and there are no troubles at all.