Libyan Rebels: Fierce Fighting Near Tripoli

The BBC reports:

A rebel spokesman in the Nafusa mountains said there had been heavy fighting on the outskirts of the strategic town of Bir al-Ghanam.

The rebels told the BBC they were making a push for Tripoli.

Guma el-Gamaty, a spokesman for the rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC), told AP news agency that Bir al-Ghanam – the focus of the latest fighting – was important as it was barely 30km south of Zawiya, a western gateway to Tripoli.

Opposition fighters seized Zawiya in March before government troops drove the rebels out of the oil-refinery city. Fighting again broke out there this month.

The BBC’s Mark Doyle, who is in the village of Bir Ayad near Bir al-Ghanam, says Sunday’s fighting began when government forces tried to cut off the rebels by attacking from behind.

Clashes continued in the distance, where the boom of artillery, the rattle of automatic gunfire and the occasional rumble of Nato jets could be heard, he says.

A medic said two rebels had died in the battle. The rebels also said government forces suffered far greater casualties, although that cannot be confirmed.

The rebels came down into the plains from the Nafusa mountains in early June, adds our correspondent. But they have met strong resistance from Col Gaddafi’s forces.

He says that although it is a shifting front line, the rebels appear to be gradually consolidating their position in the mountains.

You can read the full report here.

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