In what would be recognized as a move towards reconciliation in a UN-backed peace process, authorities in western Libya have freed 120 loyalists of warlord Khalifa Haftar.
The fighters who were captured near the western city of Zawiya were fighting for the 107th Brigade under the command of Haftar.
Abdallah al-Lafi, vice-president of the country’s new presidential council, expressed pleasure at the new development while also calling for further reconciliation and rebuilding.
“We must not pass on hatred and bitterness to our children,” he said.
After a recitation from the Koran and the singing of the national anthem, the prisoners were released and reunited with their families amid loud ululations.
Libya has been ravaged by bloodshed since the assassination of revolutionary leader Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi in a NATO-backed 2011 revolt.
Different armed groups have since risen to fill the vacuum, and many coalesced around the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) or around Haftar, who backed an eastern administration.
The two camps, each supported by foreign powers, fought for more than a year before Haftar was forced to retreat.
In October a truce was signed by both parties, setting in motion a UN-led process that saw a transitional government installed in February.
The deal had also led to the release of several dozen prisoners in January including the recently released fighters.