Government opponents in rebel-held Zawiya repelled an attempt by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi to retake the city closest to the capital in six hours of fighting overnight, witnesses said Tuesday.
The rebels, who include mutinous army forces, are armed with tanks, machine guns and anti-aircraft guns. They fought back pro-Gadhafi troops, armed with the same weapons, who attacked from six directions. There was no word on casualties in Zawiya, 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Tripoli.
A similar attempt was made by pro-Gadhafi forces Monday night to retake the city of Misrata, Libya's third-largest city 125 miles (200 kilometers) east of Tripoli. Rebel forces there repelled the attackers.
"We will not give up Zawiya at any price," said one witness. "We know it is significant strategically. They will fight to get it, but we will not give up. We managed to defeat them because our spirits are high and their spirits are zero."
Gadhafi, Libya's ruler of 41 years, has already lost control of the eastern half of the country since protests demanding his ouster began two weeks ago. He still holds the capital Tripoli and nearby cities.