Libyan rebels claim to have retaken much of the oil port of Brega. But more than 40 people on both sides were reported killed in a week of fighting.
The news comes as it was revealed US officials have met Libyan envoys in Tunisia demanding that Muammar Gaddafi must go.
Brega has for months marked the eastern limit of Gaddafi’s control and is not to be given up lightly.
Moussa Ibrahim – Libyan government spokesman said: “After they capture Brega they might stop. This tells you something: all they want is oil, well we will defend Brega until the death of the last attacker.”
In Benghazi two rebel fighters killed in the Brega clashes have been buried. Benghazi is the base for the rebels’ National Transitional Council which is poised to run Libya once Gaddafi goes.
But Russia has recently launched a scathing attack on the US and others for recognising the council, accusing them of taking sides in the conflict.