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U.N.-backed Libyan government retakes Tarhuna; 106 bodies found in hospital

Fighters loyal to the United Nations-recognized Libyan Government of National Accord pose for a photo after the area was taken over by GNA-aligned forces following clashes with rival troops loyal to rebel leader Khalifa Haftar amid the ongoing Second Libyan Civil War in the town of Tarhuna on Friday. Photo courtesy of Stringer/EPA-EFE
Fighters loyal to the United Nations-recognized Libyan Government of National Accord pose for a photo after the area was taken over by GNA-aligned forces following clashes with rival troops loyal to rebel leader Khalifa Haftar amid the ongoing Second Libyan Civil War in the town of Tarhuna on Friday. Photo courtesy of Stringer/EPA-EFE

June 5 (UPI) -- Libya's internationally backed government on Friday said it took full control of the city of Tarhuna, the last stronghold of rebel commander Khalifa Haftar in the country's west.

Tarhuna, a town located about 40 miles southeast of the capital of Tripoli, was a major supply line for Haftar's militias from al-Jufra airbase in central Libya.

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The capture came one day after the so-called Government of National Accord -- the U.N.-backed government of Libya -- said it drove out the remaining rebel fighters from Tripoli.

"Our forces are combing the city as no resistance is seen from Haftar's militias after their withdrawal from there," Mustafa al-Majei, a spokesman for the Volcano of Rage Operation told Turkey's Anadolu Agency.

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A written statement by the military operation said that after retaking the city, government forces discovered 106 bodies in a hospital. Officials said the bodies, which included women and children, appeared to have been executed.

Health Ministry spokesman Amin al-Hashemi said most of the bodies showed signs of torture. He said the deaths violated international laws and were considered war crimes.

In addition to Tarhuna, government forces also took control of al-Urban district, south of the city of Gharyan.

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Haftar, which started an offensive to capture Tripoli last spring, is backed by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Both sides have blamed each other for the failure of past ceasefire attempts. The GNA currently controls western Libya while Haftar's fighters are in control of the oil-rich eastern portion of Libya.

Libya, one of the world's top oil producers, has been bogged down in violence since 2011 after longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi died.

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