The United Nations says Libya's warring parties in the eastern city of Benghazi have agreed to a 12-hour humanitarian truce.

U.N. Special Representative Bernardino Leon says the cease-fire started on Wednesday morning and could be extended by the parties.

Leon's statement describes it as a "much-needed reprieve from the violence." It says the Red Crescent will evacuate civilians from affected areas as well as retrieve bodies of those killed in the fighting.

It wasn't immediately clear if Benghazi's violence calmed after the announcement.

The fighting in Benghazi escalated in October when renegade Gen. Khalifa Hiftar aligned with the internationally recognized government and launched an offensive to retake the city from Islamist militias.

Hundreds of people have died in the fighting.