A Libyan coast guardsman stands on a boat during the rescue of 147 illegal immigrants attempting to reach Europe off the coastal town of Zawiyah, 45 kilometers west of the capital Tripoli, on June 27, 2017. AFP / Taha JAWASHI
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Libya's U.N.-backed government agreed with Italy Saturday to establish a joint operations room for tackling migrant smugglers and traffickers as part of efforts to curb migrant flows toward Europe, according to a statement.Libya is the main gateway for migrants trying to cross to Europe by sea, though numbers have dropped sharply since July as Libyan factions and authorities have begun to block departures under Italian pressure. The Italian navy already has a presence in Tripoli port, providing "technical" assistance to Libya's coastguard, according to Italian and Libyan officials.The coast guard, which is receiving funding and training from the European Union, has become more assertive in recent months in intercepting migrants and bringing them back to Libya.
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