Zintan: Rebel fighters said on Wednesday they had retaken a village south of the capital they lost to forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi earlier in the day, boosting rebel plans for a march on Tripoli.
The retaking of Al-Qawalish, about 100 km (60 miles) from Tripoli, came at the end of a day of bitter fighting that killed five rebels and wounded 15, according to rebel sources and hospital officials.
The back-and-forth fighting underlined the fragile nature of the rebels` advances in the west that has led some of their Western backers to push for a political solution to the conflict.
Rebel spokesman Abdurahman Alzintani said pro-Gaddafi forces had been pushed back to where they were before they took the village earlier on Wednesday, or perhaps even further.
"It is the same, maybe one or two hills further," he said.
A Libyan government soldier taken prisoner by the rebels said that pro-Gaddafi forces were massing nearby, potentially setting the stage for renewed fighting soon, according to a team in the western town of Zintan.
The counter-attack to retake Al-Qawalish was carried out by hundreds of rebels in pick-up trucks, who fanned out into the hills about 10 km (6 miles) north of the village, under fire from mortars launched by government troops.
Rebel forces want to use Al-Qawalish as a staging post to take the nearby town of Garyan, which controls access to the main highway heading north to Tripoli.
On the other main battle front, near the western city of Misrata, a burst of missile and mortar fire killed five rebels and wounded 17, hospital spokesman Khaled Abu Talghah said.
"This is just a normal day`s work for Gaddafi," he said.
The conflict in Libya started out as a rebellion against Gaddafi`s 41-year-rule. It has now turned into the bloodiest of the "Arab Spring" uprisings convulsing the region and has embroiled Western powers in a prolonged conflict they had hoped would swiftly force Gaddafi out of power.
The Libyan leader is refusing to quit and the rebels have been unable to make a decisive breakthrough toward the capital despite support from Western warplanes.
Libya charged the head of NATO with war crimes for killing innocent civilians and bombarding civilian targets in Libya.
Libyan General Prosecutor Mohammed Zekri al Mahjoubi described NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen as a war criminal during a news conference in Tripoli on Wednesday.