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Libyan Rebels Hold Western Town Near Tripoli


Libyan rebel fighters with the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade take part in a live firing exercise near Nalut in western Libya, August 6, 2011.

Libyan rebel fighters with the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade take part in a live firing exercise near Nalut in western Libya, August 6, 2011.

Libyan rebels are holding on to a western desert town captured from government forces on Saturday, marking the rebels' closest approach to the capital Tripoli in months of fighting.

Reporters for western news agencies who reached the town of Bir al-Ghanam said it was in rebel hands Monday. It is located about 80 kilometers southwest of Tripoli, in Libya's Nafusa mountain range.

The rebels said they overran Bir al-Ghanam on Saturday with support from NATO airstrikes. Reporters saw abandoned government weapons and craters from the airstrikes in the town on Monday.

Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi had said that Bir al-Ghanam was still under government control on Sunday. Libyan rebels based in the Nafusa mountains have been trying to reach Tripoli for months, but have encountered strong resistance from forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

NATO says its warplanes attacked pro-Gadhafi forces in several areas Sunday, including Tripoli, the town of Zlitan, and the eastern oil port of Brega.

The rebels began an uprising against Mr. Gadhafi's 42-year autocratic rule in February.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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