Libya's civil war on Friday briefly spilled into Tunisia after fighters loyal to Libyan strongman Muammar Qadhafi battled with the opposition fighters for the control of a key checkpoint on the Libya-Tunisia border.

Forces loyal to Mr. Qadhafi, in hot pursuit of opposition forces, breached the border and entered Dehiba, a Tunisian town.

There was heavy firing and shelling between the combatants that lasted till the Tunisian military intervened. The pro-Qadhafi forces, which had been surrounded by locals, were disarmed and sent back by the Tunisian forces into Libya. Tunisian authorities seized seven Libyan government vehicles.

The intra-Libyan skirmish began on Thursday when pro-Qadhafi forces launched a major attack to recover the border post of Dehiba Wazen, which had fallen to the opposition on April 21. Since then, Libyan refugees had streamed out of this crossing, which also became a logistical gateway through which, the opposition acquired a variety of supplies.

By Friday afternoon, Dehiba Qazen was back with the dissidents. Unlike western Libya, where, after convoluted combat, the opposition seemed to have won the day, fighting in Misurata, Libya's third largest city, appeared less decisive. Regime forces on Friday shelled, what appeared to be residential areas, killing 12, Reuters reported.

Fighting in the city has raged over the control of the airport, after opposition forces managed to deepen their hold over the port area, the embattled city's lifeline.

In eastern Libya, a military stalemate has prevailed as opposition forces have failed to make a headway west of Ajdabiyah, a strategic gateway to the anti-Qadhafi stronghold of Benghazi and Tobruk, further east towards the Libyan-Egyptian border.

Meanwhile, the United States has thrown  a major economic lifeline to the opposition.

Oil sale

The anti-Qadhafi, Transitional National Council (TNC) will now be able to sell oil, gas and petroleum products to the Americans. Welcoming the move by the U.S. treasury department, the TNC said: “The people of Libya are brave and defiant but we need access to oil revenues so that we can feed, protect and defend our families.”

Most of Libya's oil is located in the country's opposition controlled east.


Elsewhere in the region, Syrian forces clashed with protesters seeking major political reforms in the country. Around 15,000 people demonstrated in Damascus, marking the largest protests that the city has witnessed since demonstrators began last month. Demonstrations on Friday were also held in Latakia, and Daraa, the city on the Jordan-Syria border, where anti-regime protests first began. There have been conflicting reports about casualties following Friday's clashes. The AFP news agency said seven civilians have been killed while state news agency claims that four security personnel died when an “armed terrorist group” attacked an Army checkpoint.

More In: International | News