Hardened rebel fighters on Thursday streamed into Tripoli seeking to deliver a knockout punch to Muammar Gaddafi’s diehards and to flush out the elusive strongman.
Rebel commanders said they are trying to push towards Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, having taken most of Tripoli.
But they have faced fierce resistance from Gaddafi loyalists on the approach to the city, which is still under loyalist control.
Rebel leader Mahmoud Jibril has appealed for urgent aid of $5 billion to avert a humanitarian crisis.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi called on his supporters to march on Tripoli and “purify” the capital of rebels, who he denounced as “rats, crusaders and unbelievers”. In a audio broadcast on loyalist TV channels on Thursday, Gaddafi sounded more defiant than in recent speeches. “Libya is for the Libyan people and not for the agents, not for imperialism, not for France, not for Sarkozy, not for Italy.”