Imprisoned pro-Haftar fighters freed in Libya

Imprisoned pro-Haftar fighters freed in Libya
2 min read
Seventy-eight prisoners who fought on the side of eastern Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar have been freed in Tripoli ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
The prisoners were freed at a ceremony in Tripoli [AFP]

Seventy-eight prisoners who fought on the side of eastern Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar in his year-long offensive against the capital Tripoli were released late on Wednesday, according to an AFP correspondent at the scene.

The detained fighters were released at the end of a reconciliation ceremony organised in Jedaida prison in Tripoli that was attended by the minister of justice.

They were then reunited with their waiting families.

The release comes on the eve of the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, traditionally celebrated by families gathering together.

Libya has been ravaged by conflict since 2014 when Haftar launched a deadly assault on rival militias in the city of Benghazi.

Over the course of the conflict, armed groups which had taken part in the 2011 Libyan revolution against dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi coalesced either around Haftar or around the former Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

Haftar received backing from the UAE, Egypt, and Russia while the GNA was internationally recognised and militarily supported by Turkey.

Read more: All is not well in Libya - what next?  

In April 2019, Haftar launched an offensive to seize Tripoli from the GNA, but was driven back a year later.

In October 2020, the warring sides signed a truce, setting in motion a UN-led process that saw a new transitional government installed after the GNA resigned in March.

In December and January, the two sides exchanged dozens of prisoners in accordance with the ceasefire terms, and at the end of March, 120 pro-Haftar fighters were released near to Tripoli.

The new executive is charged with organising national elections set for December 2021, but analysts warn that major stumbling blocks remain.

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