Authorities in western Libya free 120 fighters loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar, the latest move towards reconciliation in a UN-backed peace process aimed at ending years of violence.
Authorities in western Libya have released more than 100 prisoners who had been captured while fighting under the banner of the country's eastern-based warlord, in a gesture of reconciliation following recent accords, officials said.
The militia fighters of warlord Khalifa Haftar, were freed in the coastal town of Zawiya on Wednesday in a ceremony attended by senior officials from the newly-appointed transitional government.
The men had been held since April 2019 when Haftar launched an assault to seize control of the capital, Tripoli, and other areas in the northwest, ending with his retreat last summer.
Those released were seen wearing traditional white uniforms and caps at the ceremony in a soccer stadium, before rejoining their families.
In a speech, Abdallah al Lafi, vice-president of the country's new presidential council, welcomed the move and called for further reconciliation and rebuilding.
"We must not pass on hatred and bitterness to our children," he said.
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Libya's warring sides agreed a ceasefire in October in Geneva, and political talks led this month to agreement on a new unity government to replace the two rival administrations that had ruled in east and west.
The process, seen as Libya's best chance in years to end the decade of chaos and violence since the 2011 NATO-backed rising against Muammar Gaddafi, remains fragile with myriad armed groups still wielding control on the ground.
Musa al Koni, a member of the three-man Presidency Council representing southern Libya, called for the release of prisoners held in eastern and southern areas.
"Such joy has no price," said Khalif al Kilan, 92, the father of one of the captives who attended a ceremony in Zawiya, 45 km west of Tripoli, to release them.
"This is the real project for national reconciliation," said Ramadan Ahmed Abujanah, deputy prime minister in the new unity government, addressing the ceremony.
The new transitional executive emerged from a complex UN-sponsored process launched in November, and its members were confirmed by Libya's parliament on March 10.
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