Rebels encroach, but Libya capital seems unruffled

TRIPOLI - Rebels may have fought their wayinto Zawiyah, a strategic city a half hour's drive from theLibyan capital.

Months of military stalemate appeared to come to an abruptend in recent days, as rebels seeking to end Gaddafi's41-year-rule said they reached the center of Zawiyah, 50 km west of Tripoli, and captured a town to Tripoli's south.

While government officials downplayed the developments, andpromised to reverse any gains rebels may have made, Gaddafi'spower base in Tripoli is now encircled. Yet few signs were visible in central Tripoli on Monday ofapprehension.

There was no mass exit from the city or rush to stockpilegoods in case of a long siege, a sign perhaps of the fact thatmany residents have been bracing for the worst since theconflict erupted in February - or that residents of asurrounded city have few places to go.

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