ZAWIYAH- Libyan rebels said they
had seized a second strategic town near Tripoli within 24 hours,
completing the encirclement of the capital in the boldest
advances of their six-month-old uprising against Muammar
A US defense official also said on Monday that Gaddafi's
forces had fired a Scud missile for the first time since the
uprising against his rule began six months ago, but it landed in
the desert and injured no one.
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The missile was fired on Sunday morning from a location
about 50 miles east of Sirte, Gaddafi's home town, and
landed east of the coastal oil town of Brega, the official said
in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity.
It was unclear what Gaddafi might have been targeting, the
official said, without speculating about the motives behind a
missile launch that came in the wake of recent rebel gains that
have increased pressure on the Libyan leader.
In a barely audible telephone call to state television
overnight, a defiant and apparently isolated Gaddafi called on
his followers to fight rebels he referred to as "rats".
Rebels said they captured the town of Garyan south of
Tripoli on Monday. That could not be immediately verified, but
if true it would cut off the other main route to the capital.
"Garyan is fully in the hands of the revolutionaries," a
rebel spokesman, Abdulrahman, said by telephone.
"Gaddafi has been isolated. He has been cut off from the
Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim acknowledged in remarks
broadcast on state television that rebel fighters were in
Garyan. "There are still armed gangs inside the city. We are
able to drive them out," he said.
Rebels may still lack the manpower for an all-out assault on
Tripoli, but are hoping their encirclement of the capital will
bring down Gaddafi's government or inspire an uprising.
past, however, they have frequently failed to hold gains, and a
fightback by Gaddafi troops could yet break the siege.