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Rebels training sights on Tripoli

Libyan rebels claimed they were trying to cut off two key supply routes to Muammar Gaddafi's stronghold in Tripoli after capturing more towns in the west of the country.

The opposition fighters also battled government forces for control of the strategic city of Zawiya, just 30 miles from the capital.

The rebel advances over the past few days out of the western mountains near Tunisia into Zawiya on the Mediterranean coast and other nearby towns marked the most significant gains after months of stalemate in the civil war.

Rebel leaders said they hope to take Tripoli before the end of this month, an ambitious goal.

Colonel Jumma Ibrahim, a rebel spokesman in the western mountains, said his fighters are moving closer to blocking major supply routes to Tripoli from the south and west. The routes are critical for moving food, fuel and weapons over land to the capital.

"This means we are choking Gaddafi," he said. "He only has the sea."

He said rebel forces captured the town of Gharyan, 50 miles south of Tripoli, which he said controls the supply road from southern Libya to the capital.

Meanwhile Libyan state television aired what it said was an audio message from Gaddafi urging loyalists to take arms and fight "traitors and Nato."

The Libyan leader's message contained much of the same rhetoric used in previous addresses aimed to pump confidence in the fight against the rebels.

He called on Libyans to "dance, sing and fight" and said that as the number of "martyrs" increased, so dud Libyan resolve in his first message since rebels in the western mountains launched their offensive toward Tripoli.

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