Libyan leader Gaddafi plays chess with Ilyumzhinov, the president of the international chess federation, in Tripoli in this still image taken from video broadcast on Libyan state television
Libyan leader Gaddafi plays chess with Ilyumzhinov, the president of the international chess federation, in Tripoli in this still image taken from video broadcast on Libyan state television

According to the BBC, Libyan rebels are now smuggling weapons through Tunisia to fight Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces in western Libya.

A Libyan smuggler told the BBC that AK47s and grenade launchers are being taken across the border by individuals, in small but frequent consignments.

The new Tunisian government appears fearful and refuses to overtly support the rebel movement in such a way and Tunisian border guards are under strict orders to search each car going to Libya.

The Libyan smuggler agreed to talk to the BBC on condition of anonymity and revealed that despite the Tunisian security checks, members of the Libyan diaspora manage to fund the purchase of small arms to send to western Libya, before adding that many Tunisians are sympathetic towards the rebel movement and therefore help them get the arms.

A rebel commander in western Libya also told the BBC that his forces kept a record of each fighter and the serial number of their weapons, so they could be collected when the war was over. The new allegations came amid fears that the rebel fighters are facing a serious shortage of ammunitions and arms. Last week, Commander Ahbeel Dody appealed once again for Nato countries to send more and heavier weapons through Tunisia but this time officially.

Last month However, Reuters had also revealed that "rebel fighters in Libya's Western Mountains say they are smuggling in arms and ammunition from the rebel coastal stronghold in Benghazi, via Tunisia, and at least some of the weapons appear to originate in Qatar."

The news agency revealed that "set included new scopes and rucksacks to transport the equipment. The packaging had the word "Qatar," in English, stencilled onto it".

Qatar has been the Arab country most staunchly supportive of the Libyan rebels and the NATO-led effort to stop Gaddafi's forces from attacking civilians.

It is for now, not known where the smuggled weapons the BBC is alluding to come from.

Meanwhile the fighting in Libya is still on-going as loyalist forces clashed for a second day with rebels around a strategic oil city less than 30 miles west of Tripoli. The government of Col Muammar Gaddafi on Sunday told the "ugly, evil forces of NATO" to accept that the rebel cause was doomed and that the Libyan leader would not be driven from power by rebel attacks or NATO airstrikes.

The fighting mainly focused around three focal points, with the first one being the oil city of Zawiya, which is the Gaddafi government's last remaining source of fuel and which also enable the troops to access the coastal road that carries vital supplies of food and other necessities to Tripoli from Tunisia.

Fighting was also intense throughout the week end in the east, near Misrata, 130 miles from the capital and in the south, at Zintan, about 125 miles from the capital.

Following calls from various leaders last week for Gaddafi to step down from power, Moussa Ibrahim, the chief government spokesman, reiterated over the weekend that the NATO demand for Gaddafi to quit power and leave the country as a condition for peace talks was "immoral and illegal, and we reject it outright, and any talk of the leader leaving is nonsense."

During a meeting in Brussels last week NATO officials insisted that the operation was a success. The announcement came as NATO has extended its Libyan mission to another 90 days from the end of June.

Also, last week, NATO focused its heaviest daylight bombing raids on Colonel Qaddafi's compound in Tripoli and attacked his tented retreat in the desert east of the capital. NATO officials then insisted the strikes were expected and intended to have both a "psychological" and a military impact on the Libyan leader and his regime.

However according to Mr Ibrahim, Col. Gaddafi could not be in a better mood and he insisted the leader greatly enjoys the "overwhelming backing of Libya's six million people and was buttressed by the 'hatred' Libyans felt toward NATO and the rebels", "Now, our blood is united," he said.

Libyan state television also broadcasted on Sunday pictures of the leader meeting with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a Russian provincial governor who is president of FIDE, the international chess federation.

Russia's Interfax news agency quoted the Russian official as saying that he had played chess with Colonel Gaddafi, who allegedly told him he had no intention of leaving.

As Chinese and Russian officials last week insisted on the need to find a political solution to the end of the conflict, Mr. Ibrahim reaffirmed that plans for a senior Russian official to visit Tripoli for mediation talks on the war were a waste of time unless Russia reversed its decision last month to back the calls for Colonel Gaddafi to quit.

Anybody taking that position, Mr. Ibrahim said, was "not welcome." The Russian official, Mikhail V. Margelov, met in Benghazi on Friday with rebel leaders and said he was preparing to travel to Tripoli for talks with Colonel Gaddafi's government.

Accounts of the fighting in Zawiya, Misrat and Zintan varied depending on the camps. While the Gaddafi regime insisted that the rebels forces were now rolling back under heavy government pressure and that "They were escaping northward to Zawiya,", "They had nowhere else to go", before pointing out that the rebels were merely surviving because of NATO.

On the other hand, rebel accounts offered a different view. Rebel spokesmen acknowledged that rebel forces had taken new casualties in fighting there, with six rebels dead, but insisted that rebel losses, amounting to several dozen killed in recent days, had resulted from a push to gain ground in a rural area west of the city.

Libya is now still divided into rebels and pro-Gaddafi loyalists. As the weeks pass by, NATO officials and coalitions forces have become more confident that Gaddafi will be forced out, but the leader and his forces are it seems in no hurry to go anywhere.