Rebel forces in Libya trying to push out of Misrata claim to have beaten back loyalist troops, but suffered some of the heaviest casualties to date, in the latest clashes between insurgents and forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi.
A small rebel force managed to push their way through the town of Zawiyah, about 30 miles west of Tripoli.
Rebel commanders bemoan what they see as a lack of NATO support in the form of airstrikes they say they need to push further, says CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey reporting from Tripoli.
If the rebels manage to take that town they would effectively cut off Muammar Qaddafi's main (and perhaps only) supply road out of the country - the road to Tunisia.
In the major fighting near Misrata on Monday, an Associated Press photographer at the rebel front lines said they had pushed along the Mediterranean Sea to within 6 miles of Zlitan, the next city to the west of Misrata. A rebel commander said his forces, using arms seized from government weapons depots and fresh armaments being shipped in from Benghazi, planned to have moved into Zlitan, by Tuesday.
Ali Terbelo, the rebel commander, said other opposition forces already were in Zlitan, trying to encircle Qadaffi troops. If the rebels take the city they would be within 85 miles of the eastern outskirts of Qadaffi's capital, Tripoli.
An AP reporter with rebel forces said shelling was intense Monday morning with rockets and artillery and mortar shells slamming into rebel lines west of Dafniya at a rate of about 7 each minute. Dafniya is about 20 miles west of Misrata
Officials at Hikma Hospital in Misrata said government shelling killed seven and wounded 49 on Sunday. New casualty figures were not available but ambulances were rushing from the Dafniya line back into Misrata.
The rebel thrust at Zawiya and movements farther east near Misrata and Brega suggested the stalemated uprising had been reinvigorated, and that Qadaffi's defenders may become stretched thin.
"Over the past three days, we set fire under the feet of Qadaffi forces everywhere," Col. Hamid al-Hasi, a rebel battalion commander, told AP. He said the rebels attacked "in very good coordination with NATO" to avoid friendly-fire incidents. "We don't move unless we have very clear instructions from NATO."
In addition, the NATO blockade of ports still under government control and alliance control of Libyan airspace have severely crimped the North African dictator's ability to resupply his forces. And his control has been hard hit by defections from his military and government inner circle.
NATO, meanwhile, has stepped up bombing of Qadaffi's compound in the center of Tripoli, striking it again on Sunday, along with a military airport in eastern Tripoli. The government did not immediately report casualties or damage.
The rebels' Transitional National Council scored a political success, meanwhile, winning recognition from the United Arab Emirates, adding a wealthy, influential Arab state to the handful of nations thus far accepting the insurgents as Libyans' sole legitimate representatives.
Germany's foreign minister also paid a surprise visit to the rebel's de facto capital.
The German foreign ministry said Guido Westerwelle was meeting with the Transitional National Council to deepen relations with the rebels and their nascent government.
Should the Germans recognize the council as the legitimate governing power in Libya, it would mark yet another big diplomatic boost for the rebels who rose up four months ago to end Muammar Qadaffi's 40-year rule in the oil-rich North African country. Germany refused to participate in the NATO air mission over Libya and withheld support for the no-fly zone.
Meanwhile, Pizzey reports that the Libyan leader showed up on state television playing chess with the head of the Russian Chess Federation, who claims - amongst other things - to have travelled with aliens.
A serious Russian envoy is on his way here on a peace mission in the next few days, but the message he is carrying is that Qaddafi should go.
But as far as officials here are concerned, that is already a state of check-mate.
"Qaddafi is the safety valve of this country; this country is Qaddafi," said Libyan government spokesman Mousa Ibrahim. "If Qaddafi is no longer around, then expect a scenario close to Yugoslavia or Iraq or Somalia, or any other country that was plagued by civil war."