The Tripoli-based Libyan Unity Government and opposing forces based in the east conducted a prisoner exchange, including the release of a pilot captured during putschist General Khalifa Haftar’s 2019 offensive on the capital Tripoli.
Pilot Amer al-Orfi al-Ghajam has been exchanged for 15 prisoners held by Haftar’s forces, who support a rival government and control much of Libya’s east and south, according to reports and images on social media.
The exchange took place in the Haftar-controlled part of the Jufra region, close to the ceasefire line between eastern and western forces.
Social media images showed Ghajam, a high-ranking member of Haftar’s forces, with a long beard, wearing a traditional Libyan tunic and vest.
Once a lieutenant to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Haftar fled to the US in the 1980s and spent years in northern Virginia, where he and his family still own extensive property, according to lawsuits. It is widely believed that he worked with the CIA during his time in exile.
He returned to Libya to support anti-Gaddafi forces that rebelled against the dictator and assassinated him in 2011. For the past decade, he has led a militia that has controlled much of the eastern part of the country with support from other countries, including Russia. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Haftar stormed Tripoli for a year, killing thousands, before securing a formal ceasefire with his Western adversaries last October.
The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) said that H.aftermath in the capital Tripoli has been linked to violence and the use of mines by retreating troops that cause harm to the civilian population, which is a war crime if used indiscriminately.
The UN-backed government controlled the capital in Tripoli, with extensive support from Turkey. A ceasefire between the warring parties in 2020 was supposed to lead to elections in December 2021, which never happened. Negotiations to set a new election date ended last month without success.