Libya rebels capture forest on road to Tripoli

DVBP960 4 W 0230 LBY /AFP-VE41 Libya-conflict-Gadayem Libya rebels capture forest on road to Tripoli =(Picture)= ZAWIYAH, Libya, Aug 21, 2011 (AFP) - Libyan rebels on Sunday seized Gadayem forest on the road to Tripoli after bloody clashes against forces loyal to leader Moamer Kadhafi, a rebel fighter told AFP. "The rebels have taken the forest," a strategic area 24 kilometres (15 miles) west of the capital, which they hoped to reach later on Sunday, said rebel Mohammed. Rebels, backed by tanks and anti-aircraft guns, broke past snipers hidden in the forest and engaged Kadhafi supporters Sunday morning. "We want to go to Tripoli today," one of the fighters, Bassam, said, adding that NATO forces had been attacking the forest all night. A rebel doctor, Yusef Mustafa el-Deak, said that four insurgents died in the battle on Sunday, while another who declined to be named spoke of 10 rebels who had minor gunshot wounds. Other rebels said they had killed four foreign mercenaries. This claim could not be independently verified but an AFP correspondent at the scene saw the burned remains of two Kadhafi vehicles. The rebels have been moving from the centre of Zawiyah, one of three strategic towns on the road to Tripoli which insurgents claim to have captured over the past two days. The other two are Brega and Zliten. cjo/dsg/hkb AFP 211014 GMT AUG 11