Rebels are locked in a battle over the town of Bir al-Ghanem, Libya, which is the closest they've come to the country's capital, Tripoli.

The advance by the anti-Gaddafi forces backed by NATO jets brings the rebels just 30 kilometers from Tripoli.

We are on the southern and western outskirts of Bir al-Ghanam, rebel spokesman Juma Ibrahim told Reuters.

There were battles there most of yesterday. Some of our fighters were martyred and they [government forces] also suffered casualties and we captured equipment and vehicles. It's quiet there today and the rebels are still in their positions.

The pressure is being felt in Tripoli where a gas shortage is disturbing the normally oil-rich city. According to a Businessweek report, some people in the capital are queuing in week-long waits at gas pumps.

Libya holds the most oil of any African nation, but the conflict has caused the loss of some 132-million barrels. During the first two months of the civil war, global oil prices rose by $25 a barrel.

NATO has routinely shelled government strongholds in the capital, although its aim is occasionally poor. The Libyan government claimed that 15 civilians were killed in a missile attack that hit a bakery and a restaurant. NATO denies the claim, although they confirmed an earlier bombing that killed nine civilians. There are also reports of unexplained gunfire at nights.

Coronel Gaddafi and his government have left Tripoli for safer grounds. There are currently in al-Brega, an oil refining town about 500 miles from the capital.

Meanwhile, Libyan foreign ministers are meeting with foreign parties in Tunisia. Although no information about the talks has surfaced, it is thought that Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi and two other officials are attempting to negotiate with international powers behind Gaddafi's back.