MISRATA, Libya -- Rebels broke out toward Tripoli Monday from the opposition-held port of Misrata, 140 miles to the east, cracking a government siege as fighters across the country mounted a resurgence in their 4-month-old revolt against Moammar Gadhafi.
The rebels also gained a diplomatic boost when the visiting German foreign minister said the nascent opposition government was "the legitimate representative of the Libyan people."
Guido Westerwelle, in Ben-ghazi, the capital of the rebel-held east of the country, to open a liaison office and hand over medical supplies, stopped short of full diplomatic recognition of the Transitional National Council, as has the United States, awaiting the ouster of Gadhafi from his more than 40-year rule in the oil-rich North African country.
Germany has refused to participate in NATO airstrikes in Libya and withheld its support for the UN resolution that allowed the attacks.
What started as a peaceful uprising against Gadhafi has become a civil war, with poorly equipped and trained rebel fighters taking control of the eastern third of Libya and pockets of the west.
The fighting had reached a stalemate until last week when NATO began its heaviest bombardment since taking control of the skies over Libya under a UN resolution to protect civilians from Gadhafi's wrath. NATO has been pounding military and government positions with increasing vigor and the rebels are again on the move.
In other diplomatic developments, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke again against the Libyan regime, telling the nations of Africa on Monday to sever links with Gadhafi despite his long support and patronage for many African leaders.
In a speech to diplomats at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, Clinton said Africa should join most of the rest of the world in abandoning Gadhafi. She said he has lost all legitimacy to rule because of attacks on his own citizens.