WRAPUP 7-Heavy fighting as Libyan rebels try to push out

Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:36pm GMT

* Rebels, Gaddafi forces exchange fire west of Misrata

* Rebels say at least 10 dead in Misrata shelling

* NATO makes rare daylight Tripoli bombing raid (Adds Gaddafi protest, fighting near Tunisia, official toll)

By Matt Robinson

DAFNIYAH, Libya, June 17 (Reuters) - Libya's rebels tried to push deeper into government-held territory east of the capital Tripoli on Friday and exchanged heavy artillery fire with forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi near the western city of Zlitan.

The city, 160 km (100 miles) from Tripoli, is the next major town on the Mediterranean coastal road to the capital from the rebel stronghold of Misrata. Capturing it would be a major advance in the rebels' strategy of surrounding the capital and cutting it off from all sides.

A Reuters team in Dafniya, on the outskirts of Misrata, said rebels fired artillery and rocket launchers. Rebels said they aimed to hit Libyan tanks and munitions in Naimah near Zlitan.

"We had a strategy to finish everything today, but some of the fighters think it's a game," a rebel unit commander called Mohammed Ali told Reuters. "They shot when they weren't supposed to shoot and they have ruined it," he added, after rebels took cover at the main Dafniya front from a mortar barrage.

Warplanes could be heard in the skies above, although it was unclear whether there had been air strikes in the area.   Continued...

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