Libya rebels tighten grip west of Tripoli

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.

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