Troops of Libya's new rulers seized control of the port in Sirte, Moamer Kadhafi's birthplace, in fighting with the ousted leader's diehards during the night, a commander told AFP on Tuesday.
"There were clashes in the night and we now are controlling the port," said Commander Mustafa bin Dardef of the Zintan brigade, which is attached to the National Transitional Council (NTC), the new ruling body of Libya.
|Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters ride a tank as they flash the V-sign for victory close to the front line at Bani Walid on September 26, 2011|
The capture of the port, located in eastern Sirte, marks a strategic victory for the anti-Kadhafi forces as they battle for control of Sirte, one of Kadhafi's last remaining strongholds.
The fight for the Mediterranean city has intensified in the past few days with NATO carrying out raids for the third consecutive day on Monday.
NTC fighters have besieged the city from the east, west and south and were on Tuesday cleaning and oiling their weapons for what they said would be a thrust towards the centre, site of Kadhafi's compound and military bunkers.
"As we move closer to the city centre, it's going to be face-to-face street fighting and we are preparing for it," said one fighter, Ali Zaidi.
On Monday, NTC fighters captured a large weapons cache belonging to Kadhafi forces on the eastern outskirts of Sirte.