Zintan: Libyan rebels launched a promised assault on a key gateway to Tripoli early Wednesday, attacking positions just 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital, a report said.
Buoyed by controversial French arms drops and intensified NATO-led air strikes on the regime`s frontline armour, the rebels attacked positions in the Gualish area, in the plains north of their enclave in the Nafusa mountains southwest of Tripoli.
After a retreat from around the plains town of Bir al-Ghanam last week, spokesman Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani had pledged on Saturday that the rebel Army would soon try to push the front line northwards.
"In the next two days, the (revolutionaries) will come up with answers. Things will change on the front line," he said.
A rebel leader from the hilltown of Zintan said the rebels had coordinated their assault with NATO.
"We waited before launching this assault and finally got the green light from NATO this morning and the offensive began," the rebel leader said.
There were intense exchanges of artillery, mortar and cannon fire between the rebel fighters and government troops dug in around Gualish, the report added.
NATO-led warplanes flew over the battlefield but there were no immediate air strikes.