The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has welcomed the exchange of prisoners between warring parties as part of a ceasefire agreement inked more than two months ago in Geneva.
The UNSMIL said on Saturday that the exchange of a first batch of prisoners kicked off on Friday under the supervision of a joint military committee in the southwestern village of al-Shwayrif.
"UNSMIL welcomes the remarkable success registered today by the exchange of prisoners from both sides under the supervision of the Joint Military Commission (5+5), and thanks to the good offices of the tribal sheikhs and elders," the UN body said on Twitter.
"The Mission takes this opportunity to urge both parties to accelerate the full implementation of the comprehensive ceasefire agreement, signed on October 23, 2020 in Geneva, including the exchange of all prisoners," it added.
Libya’s rival sides eventually agreed to sign a permanent ceasefire agreement in October in all areas, to bring an end to months of deadly fighting in the North African nation.
Libya, which sits atop the largest oil reserves in Africa, descended into chaos last year after the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) under rebel commander Khalifa Haftar moved toward Tripoli to seize the city, which was repelled by Libyan government forces.
The conflict has escalated into a regional proxy war fueled by foreign powers pouring weapons and mercenaries into the country.
Haftar forces were fighting to unseat the government with support from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan.
But government forces have pushed them as far back as Sirte, on the Mediterranean coastline, with crucial help from Turkey.
Late in November, representatives of the warring sides in Libya concluded their latest round of peace talks in Morocco and agreed to “ending the division” that undermines the sovereignty of the North African country.
The agreement was reached after five days of negotiations in the Moroccan port city of Tangiers, where deputies from Libya’s internationally-recognized government and rebel forces, under the command of renegade General Haftar, declared their commitment to abandon "hate speech" and end political divisions.
In a final statement, the participants indicated "commitment to holding parliamentary elections and ending the transitional phase as soon as possible."
In August, the rival administrations announced separately that they would cease all hostilities and hold nationwide elections, drawing praise from world powers.