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“Now because of NATO strikes on (the government’s) heavy weapons, we’re almost fighting with the same weapons, only we have Grad rockets now and they don’t,” said Gen. Hamdi Hassi at the small town of Bin Jawwad, just 18 miles from the front.

The United States launched six Tomahawk missiles Sunday and early Monday from navy positions in the Mediterranean Sea, two defense officials said Monday on condition of anonymity because they were not yet authorized to release the information.

That brought to 199 the number of the long-range cruise missiles fired by international forces in the campaign, one official said.

International air forces flew 110 missions late Sunday and early Monday — 75 of them strike missions. Targets included Gadhafi ammunition stores, air defenses and ground forces, including vehicles and tanks, a third official said.

Gen. Hassi said there was fighting now just outside the small hamlet of Nawfaliyah, 60 miles from Sirte, and scouting parties had found the road ahead to be heavily mined.

He added that the current rebel strategy was to combine military assault with an attempt to win over some of the local tribes loyal to Col. Gadhafi over to their side.

“There’s Gadhafi, and then there’s circles around him of supporters. Each circle is slowly peeling off and disappearing,” Gen. Hassi said. “If they rise up, it would make our job easier.”

Hundreds of residents, mainly women and children, fled Sirte — some fleeing to the town of Bani Walid about 150 miles west, said Hassan al-Drouie, a Libyan in exile in France in contact with family members in Sirte who were among those who fled. Some members of Col. Gadhafi’s tribe in Sirte fled to another of his strongholds, the city of Sebha, deep in Libya‘s southwestern deserts, said another Libyan in exile, Abdel-Rahman Barkuli, who cited his relatives in Sebha.

Some men remained in Sirte and took up weapons to protect their homes — but not to fight alongside Col. Gadhafi’s troops against the rebels, Mr. al-Drouie said. The al-Saadi Brigades headed by Col. Gadhafi’s son have taken up positions on the city’s southern and eastern entrances, he added.

International airstrikes also hit Sebha, 400 miles south of Tripoli. The area remains strongly loyal to Col. Gadhafi and is a major transit point for ethnic Tuareg fighters from Mali and Niger fighting for the government. The Libyan state Jamahiriya News Agency (Jana) said the strikes destroyed a number of houses. Britain’s Defense Ministry announced Monday that its Tornado aircraft had attacked ammunition bunkers around Sebha.

A rebel push into the west would deeply complicate the conflict. The east of the country shook off nearly 42 years of Col. Gadhafi’s rule in a series of popular demonstrations starting in mid-February and inspired by similar successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Several cities in the west also rose up — including Zawiya, Zwara, Sabratha and others — but each subsequently was crushed by Col. Gadhafi’s forces, often bloodily. In Zawiya, for example, a still-unknown number of people were killed in a brutal siege by Col. Gadhafi’s forces that lasted more than a week and reportedly included heavy shelling of civilian areas. Regime militiamen also squashed attempts at protests in Tripoli.

Anti-Gadhafi sentiment is believed to still be widespread in many of those areas, but they are mixed together with regime supporters in some places.

Col. Gadhafi is not on the defensive everywhere. His forces continued to besiege Misrata, the main rebel holdout in the west. Residents reported fighting between rebels and loyalists who fired from tanks on residential areas.

Rida al-Montasser, of the media committee of Misrata, said that nine young men were killed and 23 others wounded when Gadhafi brigades shelled their position in the northwestern part of the city Sunday night. He also said that the port was bombed.

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