Libyan rebels say Tripoli encircled; US says Scud fired

Rebels say they have seized Garyan near Tripoli, encircle Tripoli; Gaddafi urges fight against rebels he calls "rats".

Libya rebels celebrate 311 (photo credit: Suhaib Salem/Reuters)
Libya rebels celebrate 311
(photo credit: Suhaib Salem/Reuters)
ZAWIYAH- Libyan rebels said theyhad seized a second strategic town near Tripoli within 24 hours,completing the encirclement of the capital in the boldestadvances of their six-month-old uprising against MuammarGaddafi.
A US defense official also said on Monday that Gaddafi'sforces had fired a Scud missile for the first time since theuprising against his rule began six months ago, but it landed inthe desert and injured no one.
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The missile was fired on Sunday morning from a locationabout 50 miles east of Sirte, Gaddafi's home town, andlanded east of the coastal oil town of Brega, the official saidin Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity.
It was unclear what Gaddafi might have been targeting, theofficial said, without speculating about the motives behind amissile launch that came in the wake of recent rebel gains thathave increased pressure on the Libyan leader.
In a barely audible telephone call to state televisionovernight, a defiant and apparently isolated Gaddafi called onhis followers to fight rebels he referred to as "rats".
Rebels said they captured the town of Garyan south ofTripoli on Monday. That could not be immediately verified, butif true it would cut off the other main route to the capital.
"Garyan is fully in the hands of the revolutionaries," arebel spokesman, Abdulrahman, said by telephone.
"Gaddafi has been isolated. He has been cut off from theoutside world."
Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim acknowledged in remarksbroadcast on state television that rebel fighters were inGaryan. "There are still armed gangs inside the city. We areable to drive them out," he said.

Rebels may still lack the manpower for an all-out assault onTripoli, but are hoping their encirclement of the capital willbring down Gaddafi's government or inspire an uprising.

In thepast, however, they have frequently failed to hold gains, and afightback by Gaddafi troops could yet break the siege.
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