July 16, 2011 / 8:27 AM / in 6 years

Heavy fighting in Libya's Western Mountains

BIR AYAD, Libya, July 16 (Reuters) - Heavy clashes were under way on Saturday morning on the front line in Libya’s Western Mountains at the town of Bir Ghanam, a Reuters correspondent in a neighbouring village reported.

Sustained gunfire and volleys of artillery could be heard from the village of Bir Ayad, 15 km (9 miles) south of Bir Ghanam. Rebels at Bir Ghanam hold the high ground on the outskirts of the town, their closest position to the capital Tripoli, about 80 km away.

Fighters in Bir Ayad said forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi were sending a column of reinforcements to Bir Ghanam.

Rebels in the Western Mountains have made steady progress in recent weeks after repelling assaults by Gaddafi’s forces. Their target is the town of Garyan which controls the highway south from Tripoli.

But the rebels have been hampered by divisions, ill-discipline and supply problems.

Reporting by Peter Graff; Writing by Jon Hemming, editing by Tim Pearce

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