Libyan rebels in the western mountains of the country pressed ahead with a fresh offensive against Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s forces, reaching the outskirts Al Ghazaya near the Tunisia border, rebel media sources said.
A statement from the Nalut media committee said the rebels had reached the outskirts of Al Ghazaya. “A group of Qaddafi forces stationed in the 2nd Al Kisara have surrendered to freedom fighters. And a freedom fighter from Al Rajaban was martyred,” the statement said.
Colonel Qaddafi’s forces held Ghazaya and used it as a base to bombard the rebel-held town of Nalut and rebels in the frontier region. Ghazaya lies about 12 kilometers (nine miles) from the Tunisian border.
For the past few days, Colonel Qaddafi’s forces have intensified their firing of Grad rockets against the rebels in Nalut, some 230 kilometers (140 miles) west of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
The mountainous Nafusa region has seen some of the fiercest fighting between loyalist troops and rebel forces, who are using the Nafusa Mountains as a springboard for their advance on Tripoli to overthrow Colonel Qaddafi’s regime.
The two sides have fought their way into a stalemate five months after the start of a popular uprising that quickly turned into a civil war.
The Libyan leader is in control of much of the west and his Tripoli stronghold, while the opposition holds the east from their bastion in Benghazi.
Backing the rebels, NATO has maintained dozens of daily air raids against Colonel Qaddafi’s troops, taking out military hardware such as tanks, armored vehicles and rocket launchers.
(Mustapha Ajbaili, Managing Editor of Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: Mustapha.email@example.com)