(Updates with Sirte battle in second paragraph, Tripoli in seventh. See EXTRA and MET for more on the regional turmoil.)
March 6 (Bloomberg) -- Libyan rebels fought troops loyal to Muammar Qaddafi in several cities as they advanced on the leader's hometown of Sirte, 230 miles east of Tripoli.
Opposition fighters closing on the loyalist stronghold battled with Qaddafi's troops today, said Khaled el-Sayeh, a coordinator between the opposition's military forces and its interim ruling council in Benghazi. The rebel column was targeted by warplanes as it approached Sirte, the Associated Press said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Reports on state television that Qaddafi's troops had recaptured the central oil port of Ras Lanuf overnight were false and designed to "bring down the morale of the youths," el-Sayeh said. The rebels were in control of the oil port early today, the AP and Al Arabiya television reported.