Washington (CNN) – After intense fighting among warring militias forced the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Libya, one top House Republican criticized the Obama administration's overall policy towards the North African nation.
"I think having removed [Moammar] Gadhafi, the administration sort of took its focus off of Libya and things have been getting worse for quite some considerable time now," Rep. Ed Royce said Saturday in a CNN interview.
“I do think they should be much more engaged on the ground with the factions in Libya," the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee added. "I've tried to encourage some of this with the administration. And I think they’re on the right track, but late into the game in terms of trying to bring factions together and use U.S. leverage in order to try to work this out.”
In 2011, an uprising resulted in Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi's ouster, ending his 42-year rule. Months later, Gadhafi was killed in crossfire after being captured. The events sparked ongoing fighting between armed Libyan factions.
The U.S. evacuated its personnel from the embassy in Tripoli, Saturday. Violent clashes between those Libyan factions, dangerously close to the embassy, prompted serious safety concerns. U.S. officials said its personnel have been relocated and the embassy's operations have been "temporarily suspended" until "the security situation on the ground improves." The staff will continue their work from other locations.
Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, praised the administration's move to evacuate personnel.
"I think it was very prudent to move our personnel out of there," the California Democrat said on CNN, Saturday. "We have a fierce battle going on between several militias."
Republicans have kept up sustained criticisms of the administration since the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, in violence on September 11-12, 2012 against U.S. government facilities in the Libyan city of Benghazi.
Republican critics have claimed the Obama offered misleading explanations about what sparked the attacks - assertions the administration has steadfastly denied.