Navy Hovercraft Evacuating U.S. Personnel Near Tripoli

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"Due to increased unrest in Libya, a contingent of US forces supporting US Africa Command temporarily relocated from the country in response to security conditions on the ground", it said in a statement.

Armed groups behind the United Nations -backed government of national accord, or GNA, have announced an effort to defend Tripoli, vowing to recapture all areas seized by Hifter's forces.

On Saturday he said pro-Haftar fighters were "progressing on several planned" and that Tripoli would soon be captured.

The small contingent of USA forces in Libya has been providing military support for counterterrorism activities and diplomatic missions and has served to bolster security in the region, the statement said.

"U.S. Africa Command has conducted air strikes in Libya against terrorist organizations, however, I reiterate that we have not been requested to provide any military support to our Libyan partners at this time", Becky Farmer, an AFRICOM spokeswoman, said late Friday.

Hifter, a United States citizen who lived in Northern Virginia for years, is aligned with a rival government based in the eastern city of Tobruk.

General Hifter's offensive on Tripoli could plunge the oil-rich country into another spasm of violence, possibly the worst since the 2011 civil war that toppled and led to the death of longtime dictator Moamar Gaddafi.

As the fighting heats up, so has the public rhetoric.

Residents of Misrata east of Tripoli told Reuters news agency that militias from their city had been sent to defend the capital.

Mr al-Sarraj said his government had "extended our hands towards peace", but said General Haftar will now be met with "nothing but strength and firmness".

The Kremlin said on Friday it was not helping Libyan military forces loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar push westward and that it supported a negotiated political settlement to Libya's problems that ruled out any new bloodshed. The UN mission to Libya has called for a two-hour cease-fire on Sunday in parts of Tripoli to evacuate civilians and wounded people. But it was unclear whether the warring sides had agreed to the request. Ahmed al-Mesmari, a spokesman for Hifter's forces, said Saturday that 14 troops had been killed since the offensive began.

Sushma Swaraj mentioned that the evacuation was carried out by the Indian Embassy in Tunisia. It is the first public mention that America had troops on Libyan soil.

The latest escalation in the conflict-wracked country comes just days ahead of a UN-backed conference meant to unite Libya's rivals and pave the way for elections.

"To date, Haftar´s operation has mostly failed to go according to plan, and it has now galvanised western Libyan forces against him", said analyst Wolfram Lacher.