Libyan rebels claim capture of gateway to Tripoli
Wadi El-Hai (Libya), Aug 13: Libya's rebels claimed to have captured a key mountain town that is a strategic gateway on the road to Tripoli, driving out forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi today in an intensified western offensive aiming to push toward Gaddafi's stronghold in the capital.
The town of Gharyan lies at the northern end of the Nafusa Mountains, and Gaddafi's hold on the town had been a sticking point for rebels who have taken control of most of the range. The town lies on the main road leading directly from Nafusa to Tripoli, 50 miles (80 kilometres) to the north on the Mediterranean coast.
Rebels have been trying for weeks to take Gharyan, and NATO air-strikes have hit Gaddafi's forces several times in the area.
Gomma Ibrahim, a spokesman for rebels in the Nafusa area, said rebel fighters clashed for about four hours with the remains of regime forces in the town mostly young fighters and mercenaries who then withdrew. The claims could not immediately be confirmed independently.
The capture solidifies the rebels' flank as they push ahead with a new offensive launched from further west in the Nafusa range, pushing down into the coastal plain where Gaddafi's forces have been concentrated. The rebels are hoping to take several cities along the coast before moving on to Tripoli.
Rebel commander Fathi el-Ayeb said his fighters were 10 miles (15 kilometres) away from Gaddafi-held Zawiya, a key target in the offensive. He said the rebels scouts who returned from Zawiya claim the local residents there were waiting for the rebels to reach the city's outskirts to join their fight against Gaddafi. AP
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 14 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST
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