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Peace “breaking out” in western Libya

In the latest in a series of local peace deals in the west of the country, Zintan and Zawia have signed a reconciliation pact and a truce has been agreed between Zuwara on the one side and the nearby towns of Al-Jmail, Rigdalin and Zultan on the other. The Libyan National Army (LNA), meanwhile, has said that its forces now control the latter three towns as well as the much fought-over Al-Agrabiya area, south of Al-Jmail.

Both Rigdaleen and Al-Jmail were, in fact, reported to have come under LNA control three days ago.

Last December, the two towns, previously allied to Zintan but fearing attacks by Libya Dawn forces, agreed to switch sides, providing the Misratans ensured that fighters from their prime rival, Zuwara, were kept away.

This week’s changes and in many other parts of the west are seen as less the result of fighting as of extensive talks between local elders to prevent bloodshed being spilled.

Deals are being done without a fight.

On Tuesday, Zintan and Gharyan signed a peace agreement in nearby Al-Asabha under which both agreed to put an end to bloodshed, stop arresting travellers on the road based on where they come from, and hand over all their checkpoints on the road between the two towns to the military police.

They also agreed that neither would allow their areas to be used by third parties for hostile activities against one or the other, that they would put an end to mutual attacks in their local media, and form a joint committee to supervise the withdrawal of their forces from front lines.

The deal now signed between Zintan and Zawia is reported to contain similar conditions.

The Zintani forces are said to have pulled back to their home town to assess whether the agreements are working.

The truce between Zuwara and its neighbours follows reports yesterday that Libyan National Army (LNA) was to have given it 24 hours to surrender and to hand over control of the Ras Jedir crossing on the Libyan-Tunisian border.

An official at the NLA’s western operations room said that the ultimatum would expire this evening (Sunday evening). Sources in Zuwara, however, denied there was any such ultimatum.

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