(Adds Misrata fighting)
* Rebels take casualties in battle for Brega
* Town seen as vital for rebel advance
* Gaddafi forces still within city
By Rania El Gamal
AJDABIYA, Libya, July 20 Eighteen rebel fighters
were killed and up to 150 wounded in clashes with forces loyal
to Muammar Gaddafi for control of the eastern oil hub of Brega
on Tuesday, a doctor in a rebel-controlled town said.
"Yesterday it was a disaster," Dr Sarahat Atta-Alah told
Reuters at Ajdabiya hospital in eastern Libya on Wednesday.
Rebels have said they have encircled Brega, which they must
take if they are to advance towards Tripoli, but fighters said
they were still coming under fire from pro-Gaddafi forces.
Rebels also reported heavy fighting near the western town of
Misrata, a longtime insurgent stronghold.
Brega, which provides access to most of Libya's eastern oil
network, has changed hands several times in five months of
fighting along Libya's Mediterranean coast.
Rebels said on Tuesday they had encircled the town, which if
captured would mark a major boost for their campaign to oust
Gaddafi. Insurgents said they were dug in to the south and east
of Brega and in control of its eastern residential sector.
The Libyan government has denied the rebels' reports, saying
its soldiers are in Brega.
Doctors at the hospital in Ajdabiya, which lies to the east
of Brega, said they expected more fighting later on Wednesday.
A rebel lieutenant, who gave his name as Ihab, said rebel
forces were between 5 and 10 km (3 and 6 miles) outside Brega
and Gaddafi's forces were still in the city.
He said the area was littered with mines and Gaddafi's
forces had filled trenches with gasoline, which could be set on
fire if rebels approached.
A rebel soldier named Izzel-Deen said: "Yesterday we saw
Brega. We were very close but we turned round when they started
In Misrata, a Reuters team reported heavy fighting on the
city's western front.
Rebel sources said they had to taken two truck-mounted Grad
missile positions from pro-Gaddafi forces and captured three
wounded government soldiers. One Gaddafi soldier had died,
hospital officials said.
In the west, Tunisian residents reported Grad rockets fired
by Libyan forces had fallen on Tunisian soil near the Dehiba
border crossing. No casualties were reported.
(Additional reporting by Nick Carey in Misrata; Writing by
Giles Elgood; Editing by Sophie Hares)