In Dramatic Advance, Libya Rebels Re-Enter Zawiya

Rebels battle Gadhafi loyalists in key city
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 14, 2011 3:28 PM CDT
Libyan rebels are seen in the back of a pick-up truck headed for the frontline near Zawiya in western Libya, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011.   (AP Photo/Giulio Petrocco)

(Newser) – Libyan rebels in pickup trucks mounted with weapons and troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi battled in the streets of Zawiya today, a day after opposition forces pushed from the western mountains into the strategic city in their most dramatic advance in months. Pro-Gadhafi snipers shot at rebels from an overpass deep in the city, while loud booms echoed and a column of heavy black smoke rose over the outskirts. Dozens of civilians crammed in cars with their belongings fled the city. In one car, four women cried desperately, as their male driver called out: "There are dead people in our neighborhood."

The city of 200,000 just 30 miles west of Tripoli rose up against the regime shortly after the revolt against Gadhafi began in February. But Gadhafi's forces crushed opposition in the city in a long and bloody siege in March. Many rebel fighters from Zawiya fled into the farmlands surrounding the city and western mountains further away, waiting for the right time to join in a new offensive to retake Zawiya. Zawiya had been a key target for western mountain rebels and some of those who fled the city earlier were among the forces that advanced on the city yesterday.

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