via CNN

Libyan rebels continued their westward advance Sunday, claiming that they gained operational control of another key city, Ras Lanuf.

Rebel forces told CNN that forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi pulled back from the city, but CNN has not yet independently confirmed the claim.

If true, it would signify that the rebel forces have reclaimed all of the territory they lost to Gadhafi’s forces at the start of the war. The opposition comeback was paved in part by coalition airstrikes designed to stop the killings of civilians, and that have hit Gadhafi’s forces.

Earlier Sunday, the rebels appeared to have taken control of the key oil town of al-Brega, a CNN team on the scene observed.

Some opposition fighters focused on securing the city’s entrance Sunday while others traveled in trucks heading west, encountering little resistance along the way.

Reinvigorated after regaining control of the nearby city of Ajdabiya on Saturday, rebel troops had set their sights on al-Brega — which has a large oil refinery and a natural gas plant.

After Ras Lanuf, the next major city on the highway toward the capital of Tripol is Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte. Rebel forces told CNN they expect a long and bloody battle there.

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