MISRATA, Libya – From the east and west, working with NATO air strikes, resurgent rebels battled Libyan government forces Sunday at flashpoints along the Mediterranean coast, rebel commanders reported. The government said their victory claims were “wishful reporting.”

Insurgents had reported fighting street by street to retake the Mediterranean port city of Zawiya, 18 miles west of Tripoli, a prize that would put them within striking distance of the capital and cut off one of Moammar Gadhafi’s last supply routes from Tunisia.

But government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said late Sunday that Gadhafi’s forces had driven off the attackers, and reporters taken to Zawiya saw secure streets and the green national flag flying over a central square. The insurgents, for their part, claimed a high-ranking Gadhafi commander was badly wounded in the fighting.

“The wishful reporting of some journalists that the rebels are gaining more power and more control of some areas is not correct,” Ibrahim said.

The rebel thrust at Zawiya and reported movements farther east — near Misrata and Brega — suggested the stalemated uprising had been reinvigorated, and that Gadhafi’s defenders may become stretched thin.

“Over the past three days, we set fire under the feet of Gadhafi forces everywhere,” said Col. Hamid al-Hasi, a rebel battalion commander. He said the rebels attacked “in very good coordination with NATO” to avoid friendly-fire incidents. “We don’t move unless we have very clear instructions from NATO.”

In addition, the NATO blockade of ports still under government control and alliance control of Libyan airspace have severely crimped the North African dictator’s ability to resupply his forces. And his control has been hard hit by defections from his military and government inner circle.

NATO, meanwhile, has stepped up bombing of Gadhafi’s compound in the center of Tripoli, striking it again Sunday, along with a military airport in eastern Tripoli.

The rebels’ Transitional National Council scored a political success, meanwhile, winning recognition from the United Arab Emirates, adding a wealthy, influential Arab state to the handful of nations thus far accepting the insurgents as Libyans’ sole legitimate representatives.

The rebels first took Zawiya in March but were driven out by a government counterattack two weeks later. They regrouped and rearmed for their drive on Zawiya in an offensive that began Saturday.

On Sunday, Kamal, a rebel fighter from Zawiya who would give only his first name, said about 30 of his fellow fighters had been killed and 20 wounded in the fighting.