Tripoli/Moscow: Libya asked the UN Security Council to suspend sanctions against the Muammar Gaddafi's regime, which were clamped in response to violent suppression of protests by the government in the country, a report said.

The Security Council passed a resolution on February 26 against the current Libyan government. The sanctions include a total arms embargo, travel bans and freezing of accounts held by the country's leadership.

Libyan Foreign Minister Mussa Kussa wrote to the Security Council on Friday urging the lifting of the sanctions, adding that the government was "taken aback" by the measures as only "a modicum" of force had been used against protesters.

Inspired by the ouster of long-time rulers of Tunisia and Egypt, opponents of Gaddafi are demanding an end to his 41-year rule.

The widespread protests that broke out on February 14 have reportedly claimed scores of lives, with one estimate putting the number at about 2,000.

On Saturday, troops loyal to Gaddafi broke through opposition defences and entered Zawiyah city near the country's capital.

The military offensive was launched on Friday night, using artillery and tanks, Al Jazeera reported on its website. Other media said heavy fighting was still raging.

The government lost control of Zawiyah, some 60 km to the west of Tripoli, in late February. The city was viewed as a platform for an attack on Tripoli to oust Gaddafi.