Pro-Gaddafi forces last night tried but failed to retake the town of Zawiyah, 30km West of Tripoli.

The government forces attacked the town with tanks but were repulsed by residents and troops who had defected, according to international reports. They too used heavy weapons.

Zawiyah fell to the protesters on Sunday and journalists said the residents had been braced for a counter-attack.

Meanwhile, reports in Britain say the Royal Air Force is considering basing Typhoon fighter jets in Akrotiri British air base in Cypus. VC-10 air tankers are already based there. Britain is advocating the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya. However there is reluctance for direct military actions.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said two days ago that his talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron were for Malta to be used by the RAF for purely humanitarian operations. Hercules transport aircraft have been using Malta for rescue missions to evacuate oil workers, including Maltese nationals, from the desert.

Yesterday Dr Gonzi said that Malta would not stand idly by if there was a genocide in Libya.

Meanwhile, the US confirmed yesterday is has moved naval and air assets closer to Libya to enable the President to have as many options available to him as possible.

Footage shows celebrations when the town first fell to the anti-government forces.

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