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Rebels in Western Sahara Release Last Moroccan POWs

The International Committee of the Red Cross says rebels from Western Sahara have freed their last Moroccan prisoners of war.

Rebels from the Polisario Front handed over the 404 soldiers Thursday in the southern Algerian town of Tindouf. They had held many of the Moroccans for two decades.

The rebels said they hoped the release would help clear the way for a peace settlement for Western Sahara. They also urged Morocco to release any remaining rebel prisoners.

The Red Cross says Thursday's release follows U.S. mediation. A senior U.S. senator, Richard Lugar, arrived in Algeria Thursday to monitor the release.

The Polisario Front captured some 2,000 Moroccan troops in its 16-year war with Morocco over the desert territory. The conflict began when Spain pulled out of the territory in 1975. A cease-fire was reached in 1991.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.