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TRIPOLI, June 25, 2018 (News Wires) - Libya's coastguard has rescued nearly 1,000 migrants who were on boats in distress in the Mediterranean on their way to Europe, the navy said on Monday.

Three separate operations took place on Sunday with the coastguard bringing ashore in Libya a total of 948 migrants, navy spokesman Ayoub Kacem said.

The migrants were on inflatable dinghies which were facing difficulties in the Mediterranean off the coast of Garabulli east of the capital Tripoli, navy officer Rami Ghommeidh said.

A first group of 97 migrants were rescued, while a second operation brought 361 migrants -- including 88 women and 44 children -- ashore and late in the evening a final group of 490 migrants were rescued, said Kacem.

In all a total of 2,000 migrants trying to make the perilous journey to Europe, often on unseaworthy boats, were either intercepted or assisted by the Libyan navy since Wednesday.

Monday's announcement by the navy came as Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was en route to Libya for talks on the migrant crisis.

Salvini, who has vowed a hardline stance on migrants, posted a selfie on Twitter showing him on board a military plane heading for Libya and wrote: "Mission Libya, we've left!".

He is the first member of Italy's new populist government to visit the North African country, a former Italian colony.

On Sunday Salvini ordered foreign charities to stop rescuing migrants off Libya even as reports emerged of that a group of nearly 1,000 were on boats in distress in the Mediterranean.

"Let the Libyan authorities do their work of rescue, recovery and return (of migrants) to their country, as they have been doing for some time, without the ships of the voracious NGOs disturbing them or causing trouble," he said.

Later on Sunday the Italian interior minister thanked Libyan authorities for rescuing migrants trapped at sea.

"I would like to express my heartfelt thanks, as a minister and as a father, to the authorities and the Libyan coastguard," he said in a tweet.

"Today they saved and brought 820 immigrants back to Libya, making the 'work' of the traffickers in vain and avoiding wrongful interventions by NGO ships," he added.

Libya is a key departure point for thousands of migrants hoping to reach Europe, although hundreds drown each year attempting the crossing.

TRIPOLI, June 23, 2018 (MENA) - The Libyan coast guard have rescued 185 illegal immigrants off Libya's western coast, navy spokesman Ayob Qassem said on Saturday.

In statements broadcast by Radio Sawa, Qassem added that five bodies of illegal immigrants have also been recovered by the Libyan naval forces.

The immigrants were on board two shabby boats, he said, noting that the survivors received the necessary humanitarian aid and were then taken to a shelter affiliated to the anti-illegal immigration department.

MARSA MATROUH, Egypt, June 22, 2018 (MENA) - As many as 287 Egyptians returned home from Libya via Salloum crossing over the past 24 hours, said Matrouh Security Chief Hisham Nasr.

Out of all the returnees, 81 Egyptians had illegally traveled to Libya, Nasr said in a statement on Friday.

Meanwhile, travel procedures for 965 persons, including 168 Egyptians and 797 Libyans, have been finalized, the statement read.

Also, 109 trucks were allowed into Egypt from Libya to be loaded with Egyptian goods, while 28 others left the crossing for the Libyan side.

BENGHAZI, June 22, 2018 (MENA) - The Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan Army Khalifa Haftar praised the depth and strength of the Egyptian-Libyan ties, adding that both countries share common fate relationship.

In an interview with Al-Ahram Al-Arabi magazine to be published on Saturday, Haftar asserted that Egypt and Libya are partners in everything, adding that consultations between the two countries go on in all issues that concern both peoples.

Joint cooperation is being promoted in all domains, he affirmed, noting that the Egyptian leadership supports any step that aims at achieving stability and attaining peace in Libya.

Egypt places the Libyan file among it top priorities and spares no effort to solve the Libyan crisis, Haftar underscored.

The Egyptian role is indispensable, he reiterated, adding that his visit to Cairo after returning from Paris comes within the framework of consultation and bilateral cooperation.

Concerning the Libyan-UAE relations, Haftar asserted that the Arab country has a supportive stance towards Libya, noting that it is one of the top countries fighting terrorism.

He further praised the courageous stances of the French president towards the Libyan cause.

 

BENGHAZI, Libya/VIENNA, June 21, 2018 (News Wires) -- East Libyan forces said on Thursday they had retaken the shuttered oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, where the head of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said he hoped operations would resume in a “couple of days”.

Staff were evacuated from the key terminals in Libya’s eastern oil crescent and exports were suspended last Thursday when armed opponents of eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar attacked the ports and occupied them.

The closure has led to daily production losses of up to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd), and two oil storage tanks were destroyed or badly damaged by fires during the fighting.

For the past week, Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has been pounding the area with air strikes as it mobilised to retake the ports, and it continued to target its rivals with air strikes on Thursday as they retreated.

Haftar is one of the key figures vying for power in Libya since the country fragmented following a NATO-backed uprising in 2011. He has received increased international recognition since seizing the oil crescent ports in 2016 and allowing the NOC to reopen them, despite his rejection of a U.N.-backed government in the capital, Tripoli.

Ahmed al-Mismari, a spokesman for the LNA which Haftar built up during his three-year campaign to seize Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi, said troops had retaken Es Sider by mid-morning and were clashing with opponents as they advanced west.

Mismari said Ras Lanuf, which includes a residential town, an air strip, storage tanks and a refinery, alongside the oil terminal, had also been taken by the LNA.

“Our armed forces fully control the Ras Lanuf district and the enemy suffered large losses in lives and equipment,” he said.

LNA officials said that their rivals had fled to the west and south, into the desert, though there were reports of continuing fighting near Ras Lanuf.

A medical source confirmed two deaths among LNA forces. The LNA was able to free three fighters who had been held captive, one military official said.

Libya’s national production was cut to between 600,000 and 700,000 bpd from more than one million bpd by the oil crescent clashes, but NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said he was expecting a quick restart.

“Libyan production is very low but we are going to resume very soon,” he told reporters in Vienna. “After a couple of days we will resume, we start our operations hopefully.”

The NOC has blamed the attack on the terminals on militias led by Ibrahim Jathran, who blockaded oil crescent ports for several years before losing control of them in September 2016 to the LNA.

The LNA has said the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB), a coalition of anti-Haftar fighters that previously tried to advance on Benghazi and seized Ras Lanuf and Es Sider for 10 days in March 2017, were also involved. Both sides have drawn on mercenaries recruited from Libya’s south and from Chad and Sudan.

CAIRO, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - Libya's coast guard says it has recovered the bodies of five migrants and rescued 186 others, including women and children, in separate operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

Navy spokesman Ayoub Jassem says the migrants, who were found Monday, were taken to a navy base in the capital, Tripoli, and a refugee camp in the town of Tawergha.

Libya was plunged into chaos following a 2011 uprising. Since then, Libya has been a frequently used route to Europe for migrants fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East.

Libya has worked to stem the flow of migrants, with assistance from the European Union.

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