Embattled Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi is losing control of crucial energy supplies, French defence minister Gerard Longuet said on Wednesday, as rebels advance including around the eastern oil-hub of Brega.
"He's losing control of energy in his own country," Longuet told journalists in Paris, adding that rebels had progressed over the last week, not only in Brega but also in Misrata and the Nafusa mountains, southwest of Tripoli.
"A government that each day loses its international authority and... control of territory should ask itself some questions," Longuet said, insisting that Gaddafi and his sons step down.
"There's no longer any doubt for him (Gaddafi) that no one wants him. Defections are constant and those who were hesitating are hesitating less and less," he said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday said the Libyan strongman was "cut off from fuel and cash."
Rebels, who claimed to have retaken the oil refinery town Brega, said on Tuesday they were trying to push Gaddafi's forces far enough west to place the city out of shelling range.
Longuet was speaking as military leaders from the rebel-held city of Misrata asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy for extra aid to defeat Gaddafi.
France is taking part in NATO-coordinated strikes against Gaddafi's military assets and was the first outside state to formally recognise the rebels' Transitional National Council.