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Libyan rebels claim progress to east of Tripoli

Libyan rebels claim progress to east of Tripoli
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Libyan rebels celebrating major advances on the road to Tripoli now say they have almost captured the town of Zlitan to the east of the capital.

A rebel spokesman said they had lost 32 soldiers in the fighting with Gaddafi loyalists, with 150 wounded.

On Thursday they suffered a setback when forces loyal to the regime crushed an uprising in Zlitan.

After a prolonged stalemate, the advances have left the capital cut off, seriously threatening Gaddafi’s regime.

Several towns to the west of Tripoli are said to have been quiet after rebels took control of them earlier this week.

However, heavy gunfire has been reported in the centre of Zawiyah, one of the captured towns. Fighting in Zlitan was also said to be continuing.

In Tripoli officials brought journalists to a residential district where a large compound had been destroyed.

Neighbours said it belonged to one of the most senior figures in the regime, Gaddafi’s brother-in-law and head of intelligence Abdullah al-Senussi.

Officials would not confirm that, or whether he had been present at the time of the attack, which they have blamed on NATO helicopters.

NATO says it is bombing military targets to protect civilians.

The International Organisation for Migration has said that thousands of foreigners trapped in Tripoli will be evacuated in a massive international rescue, probably by sea, in an operation due to begin in the next few days.