* At least four fighters killed, rebels say
* Rebels say were outnumbered
* Contested town near Tripoli eerily quiet
By Maria Golovnina and Nick Carey
BENGHAZI/ZAWIYAH, Libya, June 13 Rebels fighting
against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi say they were repulsed by
his forces in a battle to retake the eastern oil town of Brega,
suffering at least four dead.
In the west, rebels said they were fighting Gaddafi's forces
for a second day in the town of Zawiyah on Sunday, bringing the
revolt against his rule closer to the capital.
The rebels said they had lost at least four killed in
fighting between Brega and Ajdabiyah. At least 65 fighters were
wounded, doctors at the hospital in the rebel stronghold city of
"We attacked them first but they attacked us back. We tried
to get to Brega but that was difficult," Haithan Elgwei, a rebel
fighter, said after returning from the front with the wounded.
"NATO (aircraft) were covering us from above but Gaddafi
troops fired rockets and mortars outside Brega," Akram, 24, a
wounded fighter, said.
"We will not retreat. We look forward to taking Tripoli," he
The fresh outbreak of fighting in Zawiyah, west of Tripoli
and home to a big oil refinery, marks the closest the armed
rebellion has come to Gaddafi's stronghold in the capital for
Reporters taken by the government to see Zawiyah, which saw
intense fighting at the start of the anti-Gaddafi uprising in
February and has changed hands several times, found it eerily
quiet on Sunday, with almost no one in sight.
On Saturday, Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said
there was "no serious fighting" there.
On Sunday, he told reporters that no more than 100 rebel
fighters who had attacked to the west of the city were holed up
after suffering losses and the government was trying to
negotiate their surrender.
"They were defeated after a few hours of scattered
skirmishes with the army," he added.
Not long after the reporters left Zawiyah, rebel spokesman
M'hamed Ezzawi said by phone there was heavy fighting 400 m
(yards) from the main square.
"The brigades are using heavy weapons. They are better
equipped than the revolutionaries," he said. "We have no
statistics so far as to the number of martyrs but there are at
least seven wounded among the revolutionaries."
"DAYS ARE NUMBERED"
After the nationwide rebellion against Gaddafi's 41-year
rule erupted in February, his security forces snuffed out the
rebels in Zawiyah, a prelude to the revolt elsewhere in Libya
losing its initial momentum.
Three months later, the war has shifted again, with
Gaddafi's grip on power weakened by defections, the impact of
sanctions on supplies and NATO air strikes that have struck his
compound in Tripoli.
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, in an interview with
Reuters, said there was a growing confidence that Gaddafi's
"days are numbered".
Libyan state television broadcast images of Gaddafi -- who
has been keeping a low profile since NATO began its air strikes
-- meeting Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of the international
Ilyumzhinov, quoted by Russian news agencies, said he played
a game of chess in Tripoli with the Libyan leader, who told him
he had no intention of leaving his country.
The United Arab Emirates said it had recognised the rebel
Transitional National Council, based in Benghazi, joining a
small but growing list of states which view the council as
Libya's legitimate representatives.
Gaddafi has called the NATO intervention with warplanes and
attack helicopters an act of colonial aggression aimed at
grabbing Libya's plentiful oil.
In Tripoli residents have told Reuters of anti-Gaddafi
protests, though these have been quickly dispersed by his
"The districts of Tripoli are waiting for a signal so they
can all rise up together," said a resident of the city who did
not want to be named for fear of reprisals.
NATO member states are keen for a quick resolution in Libya
because their voters do not want another long, costly conflict
along the lines of those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(Additional reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed in Algiers, Mussab
Al-Khairall in Tripoli, Matt Robinson in Misrata, Kate Kelland
in London, Andrew Hammond in Dubai and Jan Strupczewski in
Brussels; Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)