Libyan rebels have raised their flag in a strategic town near Tripoli, marking their most dramatic advance on Colonel Gaddafi’s stronghold in months.
Their arrival in Zawiyah deals a blow to the regime.
But it is unclear whether they have succeeded in severing the vital coastal highway to Tunisia which keeps the capital supplied with food and fuel.
The government denies losing control of Zawiyah, 50 kilometres from Tripoli and insists the coast road remains open. It has also played down reports of rebel attacks in Garyan, south of the capital. In the east, rebel forces continue to fight Gaddafi’s soldiers in the oil town of Brega.
While Tripoli appears unlikely to change hands imminently, rebels now look to be in their strongest position since the uprising began in February.