After months of an apparent stalemate, the Libyan rebels have made significant progress in recent weeks, and are now within reach of Moammar Gadhafi's southern stronghold. Sebha, full of Gadhafi loyalists and once thought to be impenetrable, is an important hub for channeling supplies to the north and is one of Gadhafi's three regional power centers. The Wall Street Journal has a detailed account of the rebels' progress toward the city, during which they captured an airfield, border crossing, and two villages this month.
They are now within 80 miles of Sebha, and just one small village stands in their way. To capture the city would be a significant blow to Gadhafi, especially since he may be forced to stretch his forces thin by redeploying some to defend Sebha. The rebels have made recent advances on all other fronts as well, coming within 35 miles of Tripoli in the west, pushing back Gadhafi's troops in Misrata, and attempting to take Brega in the east. "The opposition forces are now more experienced, better trained, better coordinated," says a NATO official, adding that Gadhafi's fighters are suffering "a very, very clear weakening."