Libyan rebel fighters are putting pressure on the capital Tripoli that has not been seen during the six month uprising against the Gaddafi regime.
Rebels have taken control of the key oil refinery in Zawiyah just 40 kilometres to the west and they now hold Gharyan 80 kilometres to the south.
Reporters for the Reuters news agency said there was no sign of Gaddafi’s troops in or around the refinery.
The Zawiyah oil facilities are crucial to winning the war. A rebel spokesman said a pipeline supplying Tripoli from the refinery has been cut.
In Gharyan rebels have stationed a T-34 tank and an anti-aircraft gun in the town square.
In Tripoli there is a growing sense that the rebels’ noose around the capital is tightening. The shops appear well stocked for now but fears are growing that it might not last.
Baker Abdul Walood al-Wali said: “The conditions we are in now, we are encountering an air blockade and they are closing all the country’s exits for us. The supplies that we have will run out, we are running out of everything.”
With the help of NATO bombers, assault helicopters and a naval blockade rebels are also closing in from the east too.
During the entire civil war Gaddafi’s 41 year rule has never looked so fragile.