Illegitimate forces based in the east loyal to the coup leader Khalifa Haftar have freed 17 captives from the western region of Libya, the Libyan army said on Saturday.
“Seventeen captives held by Haftar militias have been released,” military spokesman Abdel-Hadi Darah told Anadolu Agency (AA).
He said the prisoners were handed over to the Libyan army at the al-Khamsin gate, west of the city of Sirte.
“The prisoners have arrived in Misrata in northwest Libya and will be offered medical examinations before handing them over to their families,” Darah said.
Turkey had backed the internationally recognized Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against Haftar’s forces, which was backed by Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and France.
On May 6, the Libyan 5 + 5 Joint Military Commission declared that 35 prisoners had been exchanged between the Libyan government and Haftar’s militias. The commission is made up of five senior Libyan government military officers and five others chosen by Haftar.
Libya has seen positive developments in recent months after a breakthrough after rival parties agreed on February 5 on a new unified executive authority to rule Libya ahead of national elections slated for December 24.
Libyans hope the new government will end the years of civil war that have ravaged the country since the ouster and murder of strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
More recently, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) warned rival parties in Libya to refrain from any military mobilization that could hinder the North African country’s route to the December elections.
In a written statement shared on Twitter on Thursday, UNSMIL urged all parties to “refrain from any mobilization or deployment of security elements and troops which could be perceived as escalation and could jeopardize the implementation of the law. ceasefire agreement of October 23, 2020. “
He further urged all parties to respect the demarcation lines as they stood at the time of signing the ceasefire agreement.