The UN Security Council on Thursday instructed Secretary General Antonio Guterres to deploy ceasefire monitors to war-torn Libya.
"As they examine your recommendation for an amended mandate for the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), the members of the Security Council request that you establish and deploy swiftly an advance team to Libya," the council said in a letter to Guterres that was seen by AFP.
Libya has been torn by civil war since a NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and killing of long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.
Control of the country is now split between the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and its rival, the eastern-based House of Representatives backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who launched a failed offensive to seize the capital in 2019.
A fragile ceasefire agreed in Geneva in October has largely held, despite threats by Haftar to resume fighting.
In the letter, the council said it expected within 45 days to receive reporting on preparations undertaken by the advance team and practical proposals for amending the mandate of the UN mission in Libya.
In a report late last year, Guterres called for the creation of an unarmed observer group for Libya, made up of civilians and retired military people from countries of the African Union, the European Union and the Arab League. He did not say how big it should be.
- Foreign fighters -
Deployment of ceasefire observers is being carried out with the approval of the parties in Libya.
The advance team of the observer force is expected to comprise around 30 people, diplomats said.
Under the ceasefire agreement reached by the warring parties, international observers are supposed to monitor the truce and oversee the departure of foreign fighters from Libya.
These number some 20,000, the UN says.
According to the UN, Haftar has the backing of the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia, particularly mercenaries from a private group with links to Vladimir Putin. The GNA is supported by Turkey and Syrian rebels transferred to Libya.
Mercenaries in Libya include several thousand each from Syria and Sudan and a thousand from Chad, a diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
In late January, the United States under new President Joe Biden called for the immediate withdrawal of Russian and Turkish forces from Libya, after a deadline for them to leave was ignored.
Russia denies having any military personnel in Libya.