July 13, 2011 / 10:31 AM / 9 years ago

Rebels clash with Gaddafi troops south of Tripoli

AL-QAWALISH, Libya (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi appeared to have launched an offensive on Wednesday to retake the frontline village of al-Qawalish seized by rebels last week.

One rebel fighter said the fighting started after a rebel unit tried to advance to the town of Garyan, which controls access to the main highway leading north into the capital Tripoli, less than 100 km (60 miles) away.

“The other side was ready and they were planning for this,” one fighter said.

Another fighter, on the western edge of the city, said: “We ran out of bullets and we had to pull out.”

A Reuters team in the village heard small arms fire and shelling and could hear explosions from shells landing inside al-Qawalish on its eastern edge.

Several truckloads of rebel fighters sped west out of the village, with one shouting: “Go, go, it is not safe here!”

Reporting by Peter Graff; Editing by Elizabeth Piper

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