On Wednesday, the rebels claimed a new victory in a march toward the capital that, in recent weeks, has won them tanks, rocket launchers and an large ammunition dump seized from Gaddafi’s military. The rapid gains in the west come in sharp contrast to battlefields in the east, where the front lines have remained largely stagnant for months.

The pace and outcome of the battles have given rebels hope that the tide could be shifting in a campaign that has clearly put Gaddafi’s forces on the defensive. The hours-long battle that began before dawn on Wednesday included thundering barrages of artillery and rockets fired from both sides, and ended as truckloads of rebels returned from the battlefields with a new hoard of captured weapons…

After Wednesday’s battle, rebel leaders said they forced Gaddafi troops out of the town of al-Qualish, putting rebels within striking distance of Gharyan, a city 60 miles south of Tripoli along the government-controlled supply route that leads south. Rebels leaders contend that the regime is using the route to resupply its arsenals.

Battle gains on the northern edge of the mountains, meanwhile, have extended the rebel-controlled area closer to Zawiyah, a city 40 miles west of the capital along the coastal road that connects Tripoli with Tunisia.