ZAWIYAH, Libya, (Reuters) – Libyan rebels seized an oil refinery in the city of Zawiyah and took control of Sabratha further west on the main highway from Tripoli to Tunisia as NATO aircraft struck targets in the capital.
Air strikes rocked Tripoli several times during the day, witnesses said. The targets were not immediately identified.
The goverment of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi appeared to be increasingly isolated in its stronghold. But government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, speaking on state television, said: “We reassure people that we are making progress on all fronts.”
A government official said Ibrahim’s brother, Hasan Ali, had been killed by NATO Apache helicopter gunships. He said the 25-year-old student had gone with a group to check on friends in Zawiyah — now under rebel control — after hearing reports of fighting there. He died in the central square.
“We are surprised by this and we condemn it. NATO planes have become a way of killing civilians and providing air cover for rebels to advance on Libyan cities,” the official said.
West of Tripoli yesterday, some 200 rebel fighters firing guns in the air celebrated the capture of Sabratha 80 km (50 miles) after a four-day battle.