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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Libyan rebels claim seizure of key coastal towns

RIA Novosti

01:43 15/08/2011

MOSCOW, August 15 (RIA Novosti) - The Libyan rebel government on Sunday launched an offensive to capture strategic towns near the capital Tripoli in an attempt to cut a supply route for Muammar Gaddafi and his supporters.

Opposition forces fought to control the towns of Gharyan and Az-Zawiyah west of Tripoli, aiming to cut a highway to Tunisia, through which Gaddafi's forces in the capital receive food and fuel, Al Jazeera said.

An Al Jazeera correspondent in Az-Zawiyah some 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli said the rebels currently control the bridge along which the highway from Tripoli to Tunisia runs, but some parts of the city remain contested. Gaddafi forces launch sniper attacks and mortar fire on opposition forces.

"They have managed to take 70% of the town, despite the threat of snipers still in the area," the correspondent reported.

Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim denied the reports, saying that pro-Gaddafi forces had full control over the town.

Reuters said rebel forces also seized the coastal town of Surman some 70 km (45 miles) west of Tripoli on Sunday. The agency said 10 rebels were killed in the fighting and 34 wounded.

"The revolutionaries today entered the centre of Surman. They are now in full control of the town. There is no fighting there now," the agency quoted a rebel spokesman as saying.

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