CAIRO Libyan rebels killed 57 soldiers and destroyed 17 military vehicles during a major battle west of the insurgent-held city of Ajdabiya Monday, a rebel military commander said.
The commander, whose claim could not immediately be verified, also said two rebels were killed in the firefight.
Hamed al-Hafi told Al-Jazeera television in a live interview that the fighting took place on the outskirts of al-Arbaeen, a small outpost halfway between Ajdabiya and the strategic oil port of Brega, where Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces are entrenched.
"Over the past 20 days, we had reorganized our forces. The real clash happened two hours ago, on the outskirts al-Arbaeen," Hafi said.
"We destroyed 17 wheeled vehicles and two fighters from (the Libyan town of) al-Zawiya were martyred. Fifty-seven members of Gaddafi forces were killed," he added.
He said one of Gaddafi's sons, Moatassem, was leading the government forces in Brega.
The conflict in the east has reached stalemate, with Western air power preventing Gaddafi from landing a knockout blow and the rebels' rag-tag army unable to push closer toward Tripoli.
(Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Michael Roddy)