AFRICOM Temporarily Evacuates US Troops from Libya as “Security” Deteriorates
AFRICOM evacuated the contingent of special operations forces from Libya as fighting between Libyan National Army leader Khalifa Hifter, and militias holding the capital city of Tripoli intensified. The US military did not elaborate on the size of the contingent relocated, nor where they were sent. The contingent has been in Libya since 2016, but the Libyan government has not asked for AFRICOM to help stem this fighting.
According to the AFRICOM website:
“U.S. Africa Command’s mission in Libya involves military support to diplomatic missions, counter-terrorism activities, enhancing partnerships, and improving security across the region.”
“Declining security in Libya results in personnel relocation, agility emphasis… A contingent of U.S. forces supporting AFRICOM temporarily relocated from Libya in response to security conditions. We will continue to monitor conditions on the ground and assess the feasibility for renewed U.S. military presence, as appropriate.” AFRICOM statement
CLARIFICATION: A contingent of U.S. forces supporting AFRICOM temporarily relocated from Libya in response to security conditions. We will continue to monitor conditions on the ground and assess the feasibility for renewed U.S. military presence, as appropriate.— US AFRICOM (@USAfricaCommand) April 7, 2019
Stars and Stripes reported,
AFRICOM’s concern over the “evolving security situation” comes amid an offensive by the renegade general, Khalifa Hifter, whose forces are making an attack on the Libya capital of Tripoli. Various media reports say Hifter’s troops have made inroads and seized control of Tripoli International Airport.
“The security realities on the ground in Libya are growing increasingly complex and unpredictable,” said U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, commander, U.S. Africa Command. “Even with an adjustment of the force, we will continue to remain agile in support of existing U.S. strategy.”
There is widespread concern that Hifter’s military push will bring on another wave of violence and fighting in a country that has operated as a virtual failed state since the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Moamar Gadhafi.
The government of Libya did not ask AFRICOM for assistance, which is interesting considering they are there to provide “security” for the region.
Featured photo: screenshot of Marine General Thomas Waldhouser, commander of AFRICOM (Libya News)