Gaddafi troops retake village south of Tripoli

Gaddafi troops retake village south of Tripoli
# 13 July 2011 20:32 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi retook on Wednesday a village south of the capital seized by rebels a week ago, delivering a setback to rebel plans for a march on Tripoli, APA reports siting webpage
The loss of the village of Al-Qawalish, about 100 km (60 miles) from Tripoli, underlined the faltering pattern of the rebels’ advances that has led some of their Western backers to push for a political solution to the conflict.
Gaddafi’s forces then pushed beyond Al-Qawalish to the outskirts of Al Qalaa and Kikla, two nearby villages to the north.
A Reuters reporter said he saw four or five ambulances speeding away from the front line in the direction of Zintan, where the rebels have a hospital.
Doctors at Zintan hospital said two rebels had died and 12 were wounded in the fighting.
Hundreds of rebels fanned out into the hills about 10 km (6 miles) north of Al-Qawalish as they began a counterattack. Puffs of black smoke rose from the hillside where mortars fired by government troops were landing. A fighter for the rebels said they would use the same tactics to retake Al-Qawalish as they did a week ago when they seized control of the town. "It’s the same battle," he said.
Scores of rebels in about a dozen pickup trucks with heavy weapons mounted on the back shouted, "Allahu Akbar," or "God is Greatest" as they drove in a convoy back toward Al-Qawalish.
"The rebels intend to reach the village by nightfall," said Moktar Lakdar, a rebel commander.
A Reuters team had been in Al-Qawalish on Wednesday morning when pro-Gaddafi forces began their assault on the village.
Small arms fire broke out in the east of the village and shells landed nearby. Soon after, several truckloads of rebel fighters sped away from the attacking government forces, with one shouting, "Go, go, it is not safe here!"
Rebel forces had been planning to use Al-Qawalish as a staging post to take the nearby town of Garyan, which controls access to the main highway heading north to Tripoli.
The conflict in Libya started out as a rebellion against Gaddafi’s 41-year-rule. It has now turned into the bloodiest of the "Arab Spring" uprisings convulsing the region and has embroiled Western powers in a prolonged conflict they had hoped would swiftly force Gaddafi out of power.
The Libyan leader is refusing to quit and the rebels have been unable to make a decisive breakthrough toward the capital despite support from Western warplanes.