Libyan rebels make advances in western mountains

By the Associated Press | June 26, 2011 | 10:30 AM EDT

In this photo taken on a government-organized tour, showing portraits of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi fixed to a car's hood as people rally at the Green Square in downtown Tripoli, Libya, on Friday, June 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Rebels in Libya's western mountains say they have advanced and are battling Moammar Gadhafi's forces in a town located around 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of the capital.

Gomaa Ibrahim, a rebel military spokesman in the Nafusa mountains, says opposition fighters and government troops have been fighting since early Sunday in the outskirts of the town of Bair al-Ghanam.

Guma el-Gamaty, a spokesman of the rebels' National Transitional council, said Bair al-Ghanam is significant because it is only 19 miles (30 kilometers) south of the city of Zawiya, a key western gateway to Tripoli.

Opposition fighters seized control of Zawiya in March, before government troops crushed rebel forces there to retake the city.