After an Islamist militia group in Libya took control of the US Embassy and its residential annex, a YouTube video — since removed — emerged Sunday of several men diving off a second-story balcony into a pool that US Ambassador to Libya Deborah K. Jones said appeared to be part of the annex.
A commander for the Dawn of Libya, a group operating under the Islamist militia umbrella, told the Associated Press that his group had "secured" the embassy last week during an offensive that also saw the rebels take control of the Libyan capital and its international airport.
Last month, the US temporarily shuttered its embassy in Tripoli and evacuated 150 of its staff and security personnel amid escalating violence between the country's rival militias.
According to an AP reporter who was invited by the militia onto the premises, most of the equipment inside — including treadmills, televisions, and computers — appeared to be untouched, as did even the food. The only apparent damage were broken windows and holes left by small-arms fire and rockets.
In comments posted to Twitter, Jones said that as far as she was aware, the "compound is now being safeguarded" by the militia, not ransacked.
The US State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment from VICE News on Sunday.
The escalating violence in the region precipitated the exodus of most Western diplomats and thousands of foreign and local residents in late July. US embassy staff were evacuated on July 26 to neighboring Tunisia where they will remain until "the security situation on the ground improves," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement at the time.
The Libyan government has launched numerous unsuccessful attempts to reign in rival militias that had fought alongside the Libyan army to bring down Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. Hundreds of Libyans have been killed and thousands more forced to flee as the militias, which hail from different communities and tribes around the country, continue to compete for financial and political dominance in the country's power vacuum.
Islamist-allied Dawn of Libya fighters from the coastal Misrata district seized control of Libya's main airport on August 24 following weeks of fighting against the powerful government-allied Zintan Brigades.
The group is not associated with the extremist militia blamed for the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, which killed four Americans, including then-US Ambassador Chris Stevens.
The Dawn of Libya has urged foreign embassy staff to return to Tripoli now that it has gained control of the mission compound.
Follow Liz Fields on Twitter:@lianzifields