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Libyan navy rescues 137 immigrants off western coast

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Libyan navy on Thursday rescued 137 illegal immigrants on two rubber boats off the coast of the city of Zawiya, some 45 km west of the capital Tripoli.

"A coast guard patrol rescued 137 illegal immigrants from different African nationalities and including one Syrian on two rubber boats that broke down 20 miles off the coast of Zawiya," navy spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Xinhua.

"The migrants include 19 women and 4 children," Qassem added.

The spokesman said the rescued migrants were provided with humanitarian and medical assistance and taken to Tripoli naval base, before they were handed over to the anti-illegal immigration department of Tripoli.

Libya is a preferred point of departure for migrants wanting to cross the Mediterranean towards European shores due to the state of insecurity and chaos that followed the 2011 uprising.

Improved weather conditions have increased the number of migrant boats travelling from Libya towards Europe, particularly off the west coast.

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