Government-held areas in Libya

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Map highlighting Gaddafi controlled areas

Col Gaddafi and those loyal to him remain in control of much of the west of the country, including the capital Tripoli, and have slowly fought their way eastwards towards the rebel bastion of Benghazi.


19 March: The capital remains firmly under the control of Gaddafi forces. Supporters of the Libyan leader stage rallies on a daily basis. Col Gaddafi gives interviews to TV channels, and his ministers are seen at news conferences.

However, some residents tell the BBC that a sense of fear and paranoia hangs over the Libyan capital, the country's main commercial centre and home to more than a million people. They say government forces have gone door-to-door rounding up suspected opposition figures and several people have simply disappeared. All telephone communications are being carefully monitored and the internet has been down for about two weeks, they say. Reliable information - aside from the government propaganda on state TV - is hard to come by, they add.


19 March: Earlier this month, a relentless government barrage blocked rebels advancing east from Misrata towards Col Gaddafi's strategic hometown of Sirte. Pro-Gaddafi troops also surrounded the city from the west and south, residents said. Sirte is located halfway between the capital Tripoli and the rebel headquarters in Benghazi. It had become a symbolic prize targeted by the rebels. The city of 135,000 people is home to many ministerial headquarters and other government institutions.


19 March: Zawiya, a major oil refinery town just west of Tripoli, has been the scene of some of the heaviest clashes so far. In a joint statement on 18 March, the US, Britain and France called on Col Gaddafi to pull his troops out of Zawiya - along with Misrata and Ajdabiya - and to restore water, electricity and gas services in all areas.

Zawiya, just 50km (30 miles) west of Tripoli, was one of the few western places to rise against Col Gaddafi. The centre of the town has been completely devastated in the recent fighting. Last week, members of a team of journalists from BBC Arabic who tried to reach Zawiya were captured, beaten and subjected to a mock execution.

Other towns

The rebels have also been defeated in the central towns of Bin Jawad, Ras Lanuf and Brega in the last two weeks, their mostly light weapons little match for Col Gaddafi's jets, tanks and army.

As Gaddafi forces pushed east from Sirte into rebel-held territory, Bin Jawad fell on 7 March, followed by the key oil town of Ras Lanuf - one of the main revenue-generating centres in the country - on 12 March and Brega a day later.

In the west, near Libya's border with Tunisia, the small town of Zuwara fell to pro-Gaddafi forces on 15 March, after government forces attacked the rebels with tanks. Security forces were then trying to round up anyone suspected of links to the rebels, a resident said.

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