Benghazi

Senior State Department officials publicly acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed four Americans, including the ambassador, was not preceded by protests as previously thought.

New vivid account of deadly attack on U.S. embassy in Libya that reveals how  security forces attempted to save Americans under fierce fire

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:22:24 EST, 9  October 2012| UPDATED:00:22 EST, 10 October 2012

Senior State Department officials publicly  acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that the deadly attack on the U.S.  consulate in Libya that killed four Americans, including the ambassador, was not  preceded by protests as previously thought.

Briefing reporters ahead of a hotly  anticipated congressional hearing Wednesday, officials provided a more detailed  account of the attack, painting a vivid picture of how a peaceful day in  Benghazi devolved into a sustained attack that involved multiple groups of men  armed with weapons such as machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars  over an expanse of more than a mile.

‘The lethality and number of armed people is  unprecedented,’ an official stated. ‘There was no attack anywhere in Libya — Tripoli or Benghazi — like this, So it is unprecedented and would be very, very  hard to find a precedent like that in recent diplomatic history.’

Rage: A protester holding his rifle during the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on September 11thRage: A protester holding his rifle during the assault  on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on September 11th

Attack: The four men died after riots over an anti-Islamic film stormed past the U.S. embassy in BenghaziAttack: Four U.S. citizens died in the raid on the  consulate in Benghazi, including Mr Stevens

According to the latest account of the  attack, there were no protests before the assault on the embassy. Also, State  Department officials stated that former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods  died from a mortar attack, and that officials still do not know how Ambassador  Christopher Stevens made it from the compound to the hospital.

September 11, 2012, started out as a regular  day in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi which sits on a property the size of a  football field surrounded by a nine-foot wall topped by barbed wire and other  security upgrades.

Ambassador Stevens arrived in the city the  day before accompanied by a five-person security detail. On the anniversary of  9/11, the American envoy decided to hold meetings inside the secured compound,  fearing possible acts of violence.

At around 8:30pm that night, Stevens  concluded his final meeting of the day and escorted Turkish diplomat outside the  main entrance of the consulate. At the time, everything appeared calm and there  were no protests in the streets.

A little over an hour later, security agents  started hearing loud noises, gunfire and explosions near the front gate. A  barracks at the entrance housing the local militiamen was burnt down, and a  large group of armed men was captured on a security camera flowing into the  consulate.

Inferno: Armed attackers dumped jerry cans of diesel fuel in the building and set ablaze part of the exterior of the consulate's exterior Inferno: Armed attackers dumped jerry cans of diesel  fuel in the building and set ablaze part of the exterior of the consulate’s  exterior

Aftermath: The U.S. consulate in Benghazi the day after last month's deadly assaultAftermath: The U.S. consulate in Benghazi the day after  last month’s deadly assault

Alarm was sounded, and consulate officials  proceeded to alert their colleagues in the embassy in Tripoli, officials in  Washington, the Libyan authorities and a U.S. quick reaction force located at a  second compound a little over a mile away.

One agent, armed with a sidearm and an M4  submachine gun, led Stevens and computer specialist Sean Smith to a safe room  inside one of the compound’s two main residences which was equipped with a heavy  metal grill and several locks, as well as windows that can be opened only from  the inside.

The other security officials armed themselves  with long guns, body armor, helmets and ammunition at other buildings. Two of  them made an attempt to enter the building with Stevens, but were forced to  retreat after meeting resistance. .

Attackers eventually managed to enter the  building where the ambassador was hiding and attempted to open the door to the  safe room, but to no avail. They dumped jerry cans of diesel fuel in the  building, lit furniture on fire and set aflame part of the exterior of the  building.

Sean Smith Ambassador Chris Stevens

Innocent: Computer specialist Sean Smith, left, died at  the consulate from smoke inhalation, while Ambassador Chris Stevens, right,  passed away at the hospital, although it remains unclear how he got  there

Doherty Benghazi Attacks

Heroic: Former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods, right, and Glen  Doherty, left, were killed in a mortar attack

Two of the remaining four agents barricaded  inside the compound’s other residence, preventing the armed men from entering.  The protesters then attempted to gain access to the tactical operations center,  but were unable to enter the building despite smashing the door.

Meanwhile, the building that was housing the  ambassador rapidly began filling up with thick diesel smoke and fumes from the  burning furniture. Inside, visibility was less than three feet.

Unable to breathe, the Americans opened a  window in the bathroom, but it proved insufficient to fill the room with fresh  air.  At that point, a decision was made to leave the building.

The agent went out first, flopping out onto a  patio enclosed by sandbags and immediately taking fire, including probably  rocket-propelled grenades.

Stevens and Smith did not come out, so the  agent, suffering severely from smoke inhalation, went in and out of the building  several times to look for them. He then climbed to the roof  and collapsed,  but not before radioing the other agents to alert them.

Haven: Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith were hiding in a safe room which later filled with diesel smoke Haven: Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith were hiding in  a safe room which later filled with diesel smoke

Under siege: The compound came under heavy mortar and gun fire during the attack which lasted several hours Under siege: The compound came under heavy mortar and  gun fire during the attack which lasted several hours

The other four agents were able to reunite  and take an armored vehicle to Stevens’ building. They reached the agent on the  roof and tried to set up a perimeter. Taking turns enter the building, the  agents scoured the premises on their hands and knees for the missing  Americans.

Smith was eventually pulled out dead, but  Stevens was not found.

A six-person quick reaction security team  arrived from their compound across town accompanied by about 60 Libyan  militiamen accompany. They also attempted to secure a perimeter around the  building, but determined that they can’t hold it.

Outnumbered by ‘an unbelievable amount of bad  guys’ in the compound the militia fighters told the security team they had to  evacuate, according to a State Department official.

‘We’ve got to leave, we can’t hold the  perimeter,’ the official said the militia told the team.

After taking fire, a decision was made to  evacuate the compound and return with everyone to the reaction force’s  compound.

Agents piled into an armored vehicle, with  Smith’s body in tow, and left through the main gate under fire. Crowds and  groups of men blocked two different routes to the security compound, creating  heavy traffic that slowed down the escaping Americans to about 15mph.

Official version: The State Department says the attack on the Benghazi compound was not preceded by protests Official version: The State Department says the attack  on the Benghazi compound was not preceded by protests

Locked and loaded: Men who attacked the U.S. consulate came armed with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars Locked and loaded: Men who attacked the U.S. consulate  came armed with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars

Traveling a narrow street, they reached a  group of men who signaled for them to enter a compound. However, the security  officials ‘smelled a rat’ and sped away, taking heavy fire from AK-47 machine  guns at a distance of only two feet, and hand grenades thrown against and under  the car which blew two of the tires. .

They sped past another crowd of men and onto  a main street and across a grassy median into opposing traffic. The agents drove  against traffic, eventually reaching their compound, where they took more heavy  fire for several hours.

In the night, a team of reinforcements from  the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli arrived on a chartered aircraft at the Benghazi  airport and reached the security compound.

At around 4am, the compound’s building was  hit by mortar fire which killed agents Doherty and Woods. One agent who was  involved in the attack from the beginning was severely wounded.

The men then decided to evacuate the city  entirely. The following several hours were spent securing the annex and moving a  large convoy of vehicles to the airport before they were evacuated on two  flights.

Stevens was not seen by the security team  again until his body was delivered to the airport, officials said, and they  still do know how he reached the Libyan hospital where attempts were made to  treat him for smoke inhalation.

Officials said that they were informed that  Stevens was at the hospital only after doctors found his cell phone and began  calling the most recently dialled numbers.

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