This map of the battlefields around Tripoli shows the current position of rebel and Gaddafi-loyalist forces between the Tunisian border and Misratha along the Mediterranean coast.
It is clear that the rebels managed to split the Gaddafi-held territory along the coast west of Tripoli in half by capturing the city of Az Zawiyah last weekend and adding Surman yesterday.
Another important move by the rebels was taking possession of Garyan, south of the capital. This effectively severed another important supply line for the loyalist troops in Tripoli because the rebels are now able to block the Garyan Road. The Garyan Road, leading into the Sahara desert, is not only an alternative route to the Sirte Bay in case the coastal road is blocked (which it is for the loyalists), it was also the only major connection to a neighboring country that was still open for the government troops. The road connects Tripolis with the town of Ghat on the border to Algeria, 1,340 kilometers to the southwest.
Not shown in the map is the ongoing battle in and around the strategically important city of Brega, south of Benghazi. The rebels have captured the eastern half of the city but the loyalists hold on to the western part with its refineries and oil pipelines. The advance of the rebels has slowed down considerably because the Gaddafi forces have laid literally thousands of landmines that need to be cleared before any forward movement can take place.
The next moves of the rebels should be an advance to take Al Khoms, 120 km east of the capital. With that, the stage would be set for a final battle for Tripoli.
(Sources: Huffington Post, Middle East & Balkans News; 18 August 2011)