Libyan rebels say they now control most of the strategic western town of Az-Zawiyah, as they continue an offensive aimed at isolating Tripoli, the country's capital. . . .
In Az-Zawiyah, rebel commanders said they controlled most of the town, but that they were still taking sniper fire from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi. The rebel assault on Az-Zawiyah and its neighbouring towns began on Saturday, as they sought to cut off the southern coastal route from Tunisia which Gaddafi has been using to resupply. Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Az-Zawiyah, reported that the rebels had taken control of a bridge along which the highway from Tripoli to Tunisia runs, but that central areas of the city remained contested, with Gaddafi forces employing snipers and mortar fire, as well Grad rockets.
On Sunday, Bashir Ahmed Ali, the rebels' battalion commander in Az-Zawiyah, said that his forces had suffered "many casualties" due to sniper fire. On Monday, rebels said they were focusing on capturing or killing the snipers and clearing out any other pro-government forces left in the town.
The rebels say that they have also taken the towns of Surman, 60km west of Tripoli and Garyan, 50km to the south.
We'll have to see if the rebels hold onto these gains, or do what they usually do and go home to celebrate their victory for a few days, letting Gaddafi's men back in:
The rebels have taken Az-Zawiyah twice before, only to lose it to government counter-offensives.Meanwhile, Gaddafi's Interior Minister has landed in Cairo with his family, saying it is a "tourist visit. And then this weird item:
A US defence official said Gaddafi's forces had fired a Scud missile for the first time since the uprising, but it landed in the desert and injured no one.I don't know what that means, but firing Scuds into the desert doesn't strike me as the act of a government that feels in control.
The missile was fired on Sunday morning from a location about 80 km east of Sirte, Gaddafi's home town, and landed east of the coastal oil town of Brega, the official said in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity.
It was unclear what might have been its target, the official said.