An attack by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces on Libya’s third-largest city of Misurata yesterday killed around 10 rebel fighters and wounded several, a rebel spokesman in the city said by telephone.

Between 2,000 and 3,000 Gaddafi troops attacked the Mediterranean port city from the south, west and east, Hassan al-Galai said.

They deployed Grad rockets as well as tanks and heavy artillery but were repulsed by the rebels who prevented them from entering the city, Mr Galai said.

He said there had been no intervention by Nato-led aircraft and that the fighting was still raging at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT). Rebels scored a major victory on May 12 when they secured the airport, effectively ending a two-month siege by pushing out Gaddafi forces beyond rocket range.

Meanwhile, Nato’s leadership pressed allies yesterday to step up their contributions to the Libyan air war to finally dislodge Col Gaddafi and begin planning for the day after his downfall.

After three months of air strikes, defence ministers meeting in Brussels said time was working against Col Gaddafi and urged the defiant colonel to finally step down.

But with only eight out of 28 Nato members carrying out air strikes, Nato’s secretary general as well as the US and British defence chiefs prodded allies that have taken secondary roles to help ease the burden on air crews showing signs of fatigue. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates named three countries that should consider striking, Spain, Turkey and The Netherlands, and two countries that are not participating at all – Germany and Poland – to consider joining the campaign, said officials familiar with the discussions.

“We want to see increased urgency in some quarters in terms of Libya,” British Defence Secretary Liam Fox said before the talks.

Nato’s alliance chief, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said he did not foresee “a leading role” for Nato in a post-Gaddafi Libya and ruled out alliance ground forces.


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