Officials say mass grave was discovered in Alrabet area of Tarhuna city, a former stronghold of warlord Haftar's militia, as political talks continue in neighbouring Tunisia.

Libya has discovered several mass graves in Tripoli and Tarhuna cities, after warlord Haftar’s defeat in recent offensive on capital Tripoli.
Libya has discovered several mass graves in Tripoli and Tarhuna cities, after warlord Haftar’s defeat in recent offensive on capital Tripoli. (AA)

A new mass grave has been found in Libya's southwestern city of Tarhuna that was recently liberated from warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militia, the Libyan government has said.

"The grave was discovered in Alrabet area, a former stronghold of Haftar’s militia in the city," Lutfi Tawfiq, the director of the General Authority for Research and Identification of Missing Persons, told Anadolu Agency.

He said efforts were still under way to exhume the bodies inside the grave.

Several mass graves found so far

Last week, the Libyan authorities discovered five mass graves in the same area in Tarhuna where 12 bodies were exhumed.

The Libyan government has discovered several mass graves in Tripoli and Tarhuna in the wake of Haftar’s defeat in his recent offensive on Tripoli.

The Libyan authorities say that Haftar's militia and allied mercenaries have committed several war crimes and crimes against humanity in the period between April 2019 and June 2020.

On June 16, the Libyan government found 226 dead bodies in mass graves in Tarhuna and south of Tripoli.

READ MORE: More bodies found in new Libya mass grave

Libya talks concluding

The discovery of mass graves has come as a week of UN-led talks on Libya is set to conclude.

The political talks in neighbouring Tunisia has brought together 75 delegates selected by the UN to represent a broad range of constituencies, but observers have criticised the way they were chosen and cast doubts over their clout in a country where two sides are already vying for power.

The UN said on Friday that the delegates had agreed to hold national elections on December 24 next year, without specifying whether these would be presidential, parliamentary or both.

The Tunisia talks were also meant to produce a temporary executive to govern in the interim, providing services to a country battered by economic woes and the coronavirus pandemic as well as the conflict.

The meetings came in parallel with military talks earlier in the week to fill in the deals of an October ceasefire deal that formally ended over a year of fighting between forces backing rival administrations.

The UN's former envoy to Libya and the architect of the current UN process, Ghassan Salame, told AFP news agency on Friday he had higher hopes than ever for peace, citing "an accumulation of positive factors".

But observers remain wary, noting the numerous previous deals that have failed to bring an end to the war.

Ceasefire after bloody battles 

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The Government of National Accord (GNA) was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed because of Haftar’s military offensive.

The UN recognises the government headed by Fayez al Sarraj as the country's legitimate authority as Tripoli has battled Haftar's militias since April 2019 in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

But after a year of bloody stalemate on the edges of Tripoli, Haftar's forces were repelled by pro-unity government forces boosted by Turkish military support.

That led to a formal ceasefire deal in October.

Elected Libyan officials have called for a constitution to be approved before national elections are held, without challenging the date of the polls.

READ MORE: Libya parties agree to hold elections in December 2021

Source: TRTWorld and agencies