Sunday, August 7, 2011

Libyan rebels push towards Az Zawiyah

Libyan opposition fighters have captured a strategic town in western Libya, as they intensify a push towards the coastal city of Az Zawiyah.

Hundreds of rebels fought Muammar Gaddafi's forces in the battle for Bir Ghanem, 85km from the capital, Tripoli, on Saturday.

"Bir Ghanem is fully under revolutionary control. They are now combing the area for Gaddafi loyalists and landmines," Abdulrahman, a rebel spokesman said by telephone from Zlitan.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr said at least 14 opposition fighters were killed and 17 were wounded in the battle which lasted only a few hours.

"It was really fierce fighting," she said. "Since early morning we heard heavy exchange of rocket fire from both sides."

The offensive was part of the rebels' attempt to get closer to Tripoli. The rebels said earlier this week they hoped to reach the capital before the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"The most important thing for them now is to reach Az Zawiyah," our correspondent said.

"They know that they can get support from inside that city, that rebels there are ready to rise up against the Gaddafi regime but they need help from outside." (click here for more and latest video)