NEW YORK, March 12 (CNA) - The United Nations Security Council on Friday (Mar 12) urged countries with troops and mercenaries in Libya to withdraw them “without delay” as demanded in the ceasefire agreement between the country’s warring parties.

A presidential statement approved by all 15 council members welcomed a key step following the October ceasefire - Wednesday's vote by the country’s House of Representatives endorsing the newly appointed interim government charged with leading the country to elections on Dec 24.

The UN’s most powerful body called on all Libyan parties to ensure a smooth handover to the interim government of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.

Oil-rich Libya was plunged into chaos after a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi and split the country between a UN-supported government in Tripoli and rival authorities based in the country’s east, each side backed by an array of local militias as well as regional and foreign powers.

In April 2019, Khalifa Haftar and his forces, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive to try and capture Tripoli.

His campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support of the UN-supported government with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.

The October ceasefire agreement called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries in three months and adherence to a UN arms embargo, provisions which have not been met.