Libya rebels launch offensive in west

Hundreds of rebels in western Libya launched a broad offensive against government forces.

Updated: Jul 28, 2011, 21:51 PM IST

Cairo: Hundreds of rebels in western Libya
launched a broad offensive against government forces on Thursday,
seizing three small towns and advancing on others to secure a
major supply route near the Tunisian border, rebel spokesmen
said.

Four rebel fighters were killed and several wounded in
what the spokesmen described as the biggest push in the area
since the start of Libya`s civil war five months ago. They
said rebels captured 18 government soldiers, as well as
weapons and ammunition.

Libya`s civil war has been largely deadlocked, despite
shifting front lines, and rebels have been unable to score a
major breakthrough on the battle field.

Rebels control Libya`s eastern third and most of the
Nafusa mountains in the west, as well as the western port city
of Misrata.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, entrenched in the
capital of Tripoli, is clinging to the rest of the territory.

In today`s fighting, hundreds of rebels descended from
their stronghold in the Nafusa mountains at dawn and advanced
in several areas along a stretch of more than 100 kilometers,
said Badees Fessato, a rebel spokesman.

He said opposition forces drove government troops out
of the small towns of Jawsh and Ghezaya, and moved toward the
towns of Badr and Takut.

Jawsh is about 150 kilometers east of the Tunisian
border and located along a main road between Tunisia and
Tripoli. Ghezaya is closer to the Tunisian border.

One of the objectives of the push is to drive back
pro-Gaddafi forces from the rebels` main supply route between
the Tunisian border and the Nafusa mountains, he said.

Rebels seized control of the Tunisian-Libyan border
closest to the Nafusa area in April, but Gaddafi`s forces have
repeatedly tried to retake it and have shelled the supply
road.

In a separate development, the rebels said they had
detained their own top military commander for questioning on
suspicion his family might still have ties to regime.

Rebel military spokesman Mohammed al-Rijali said the
commander, Abdel Fattah Younes, was taken from his operations
room near the front to the main rebel stronghold, the eastern
city of Benghazi, for interrogation.

PTI