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Libya rebels in "fierce" fight for Sabha: spokesman

First Posted: 08/23/11 06:01 PM ET Updated: 10/24/11 06:12 AM ET

CAIRO (Reuters) - Rebels are fighting Muammar Gaddafi's loyalists for control of Sabha, an important city in Libya's southern desert that is likely to be his last stronghold, a senior rebel spokesman said on Tuesday.

Colonel Ahmed Bani, a senior rebel military spokesman, told Al-Arabiya television that the rebels were currently negotiating with tribal leaders in Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown, for the surrender of the Mediterranean coastal city without bloodshed.

"There is a vicious battle between the free Libyans (rebels) and remnants of the tyrant," Bani told Arabiya after rebels entered Gaddafi's main stronghold of Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli. "Sabha will be the last stronghold for him."

Sabha is around 600 km (400 miles) south of the Libyan capital Tripoli, which was overrun by rebels this week.

He said Gaddafi was "being protected by foreigners whom he brought from neighboring countries and granted Libyan citizenship.

"But our rebels and the people in Sabha, we are capable of finishing the battle, as we did in Benghazi, Misrata and Tripoli," Bani said.

Referring to the situation in Sirte, Bani said: "Regarding Sirte, there are negotiations now for the entry of the rebels to the city without bloodshed from either side."

(Reporting by Ali Abdelatti Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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