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Libyan rebels battle Gaddafi's army

Muammar Gaddafi's forces have pounded rebels near their port-city redoubt in western Libya.

But opposition fighters fought their way back into another Mediterranean city near the Tunisian border, a surprising resurgence in their nearly four-month battle to oust Gaddafi.

Anti-Gaddafi sentiment also was building in the once quiescent southern city of Sabha, where young men and members of a big anti-government tribe were protesting in the streets and readying their weapons to join the fight.

The lightly populated south of the country was long believed to be firmly behind Gaddafi.

Near Misrata, the major rebel stronghold 125 miles east of Tripoli, forces under the command of Gaddafi's sons Khamis and al-Moatassem and top aide Abdullah al-Senoussi have killed nearly 40 rebel fighters in intense shelling over the past three days.

Government forces have the city surrounded on all sides but the north, where the residents and rebels have access to the Mediterranean Sea for supplies and food through Libya's major port. Rebels have beaten back several government attempts to retake the city.

In the far west of the country near the border with Tunisia, the uprising to end Gaddafi's 40-year rule appeared to be gaining momentum with rebels advancing in heavy street-by-street fighting in Zawiya.

An AP reporter passing through the city late on Saturday said the government had been forced to close the important coastal road from Tripoli to the Tunisian border because of fighting. The highway is Gaddafi's one remaining supply route.

In a surprising show of resilience rebels have regrouped and moved deeply into the city, just 18 miles west of the capital. They took the city in March but were brutally driven out two weeks later.

Since the rebel advance began on Saturday, about 30 rebels have been killed and 20 wounded in the clashes, said Kamal, a rebel originally from Zawiya, who fled after Gaddafi forces crushed the rebellion there in mid-March.


From Belfast Telegraph