The United States has evacuated its embassy in Libya, citing ongoing clashes by militias in close proximity to its Tripoli facilities.
"Securing our facilities and ensuring the safety of our personnel are top Department priorities, and we did not make this decision lightly. Security has to come first," a statement released Saturday by State Department spokesperson Marie Harf reads.
"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 statement continues.
In the operation assisted by the U.S. military, the embassy personnel traveled by land and arrived Saturday in Tunisia, from where they will travel onward.
As the Associated Press reported, this closure is the second in just over three years that the Tripoli embassy has been shut; the previous closure took place in Feb. 2011 during the uprising that ousted former leader Moammar Gadhafi.
A 2012 attack in the Libyan city of Benghazi left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead, an incident currently under congressional investigation.