Libyan government troops advanced on Misrata's eastern districts on Friday, triggering street-battles with rebels in the coastal city that forced residents to flee the area, a rebel spokesman said.
"They tried to advance and enter the city from the eastern side, from an area called Eqseer, which is a populated area. The rebels confronted them and clashes are continuing," rebel spokesman Hassan al-Misrati told Reuters by telephone.
The rebels were attempting to disrupt supply lines of government forces in an effort to loosen the grip of Muammar Gaddafi loyalists on Libya's third city, Misrati said.
"They (rebels) have cut the Tripoli road into four parts using huge containers filled with sand and stones. This way they have managed to block the back-up coming to the snipers. We have managed to liberate a few buildings," he added.
Misrata rose up with a number of other towns against Gaddafi in mid-February and has been under siege for weeks after a violent crackdown put an end to most pro-democracy unrest elsewhere in the west of the Arab North African state.
Accounts from Misrata cannot be independently verified because the Libyan authorities have not allowed journalists to report freely from the city.