TRIPOLI, Libya

The main coastal road linking Libya’s east and west will be opened Sunday to give time to renegade general Khalifa Haftar to pull out Russian mercenaries, a Libyan military spokesman said.

“We agreed to open the Misrata-Sirte Road, alleviate the suffering of the citizens, and give the second party [Haftar] a deadline to withdraw the Russian Wagner mercenaries,” Abdel-Hadi Darah, a spokesman for the Sirte-Jafra Operations Room, told Anadolu Agency.

The coastal road is an important trade route that has been closed since Haftar’s militias launched a failed offensive to capture the capital Tripoli in 2019.

Wagner mercenaries that support Haftar’s forces are stationed in Sirte and its airport.

Darah, however, did not specify how long the strategic road will remain open.

On Oct. 23, the UN announced a permanent cease-fire agreement between Libya’s warring rivals during its facilitated 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission talks in Geneva.

The agreement also called for the withdrawal of all mercenaries from Libya within three months of its signing. The deadline expired on Jan. 23.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara

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