Rebels clash with Gaddafi troops south of Tripoli

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 13, 2011 6:33 AM
Rebels clash with Gaddafi troops south of Tripoli

AL-QAWALISH, Libya - Clashes broke out on Wednesday on the frontline south of Libya's capital after advancing rebel fighters came under an ambush from troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, rebels said.

Rebel fighters seized control of the village of Al-Qawalish last week, and are planning to push on east to the town of Garyan, which controls access to the main highway leading north into the capital Tripoli, less than 100 km (60 miles) away.

One rebel fighter said the fighting started after a rebel unit tried to advance from Al-Qawalish. "We were moving forward and suddenly we were ambushed," said the fighter.

A Reuters team in the village heard small arms fire and shelling and could hear explosions from shells landing inside Al-Qawalish on its eastern edge.

Several truckloads of rebel fighters sped west out of the village, with one shouting: "Go, go, it is not safe here!"

Outside the village another rebel fighter said: "There was fighting and we are waiting for support."

(Reporting by Peter Graff; Editing by Alison Williams)