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Rebels encircle Tripoli, plan transition

world Updated: Aug 17, 2011 22:56 IST
AFP
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Libya's rebels on Wednesday pushed to strangle two supply lines to Tripoli, hoping to ratchet up pressure on the regime as their leaders prepared for the transition to democracy.

Rebels fought to sever Tripoli's supply lines from Tunisia to the west and to Muammar Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte in the east, as they continued efforts to translate military victories into political pressure.

Fighting continued to the west of Tripoli at Zawiyah, with rebel officials claiming they were in control of "most" of the strategically vital oil port. The town, which contains a oil refinery, "is being heavily shelled by Gaddafi forces from the east, but the population is not scared and will not leave," said Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani, a military spokesman.

Bani added that the rebels were now pushing west toward the Tunisian border, an apparent bid to further strangle what limited supply lines remain.

"Zabrata and Sorman are now entirely under our control," he said referring to two towns to the west of Zawiyah, adding there was now fierce fighting on an inland road parallel to the main coastal route around the town of Ajaylat.

It was the latest in a series of operations to cut off the capital, which the rebels hope will force defections from the regime and spark a Tripoli uprising against the nearly 42 year old regime.

East of Tripoli rebels moved toward a town that links the capital and Sirte -- Gaddafi's hometown and a stronghold for his military.

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