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The parties to the conflict in Libya on Friday initiated an exchange of prisoners, mediated by the United Nations, under their ceasefire agreement, the United Nations (UN) said today.

An exchange of a first group of prisoners, supervised by a joint military committee, took place in the village of al- Shwayrif , in the southwest of the country, according to the United Nations Support Mission in Libya ( UNSMIL ).

Libya is divided between the National Accord Government ( GAN ), supported by the UN in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east of the country. Each side has the help of local militias, as well as regional and international powers.

The oil-rich country plunged into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi .

In April 2019, Marshal Khalifa Haftar , a “strong man” from the east, launched an offensive to try to occupy Tripoli, a campaign that failed after Turkey began to militarily support GAN .

The two sides signed in October a ceasefire sponsored by the UN , which provided for the exchange of all prisoners.

The UNSMIL did not indicate how many prisoners have been released by each party, but urged the two camps to speed up the implementation of the Agreement, including the exchange of prisoners.

The ceasefire agreement also gave Libya three months to withdraw foreign forces and mercenaries, but two months after signing it, no progress on the matter has yet been announced.

Conversely, the Turkish parliament on Tuesday approved the 18-month extension of the authorization to deploy military personnel to Libya.

Today, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar arrived in Libya, with army officials, to meet with his allies and visit Turkish military units present in the country, the Turkish government announced.

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