The Libyan capital Tripoli appears to show little immediate sign that it is about to fall from the grip of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Within only a few days a strong counter-offensive by forces loyal to the regime has successfully pushed back the rebels, capturing key towns to the east.
Reporting from the city, under the close eye of authorities, our special correspondent, Ryad Muassas says, while the capital remains calm, the civil war continues to rage elsewhere.
‘‘It was here Gaddafi made a speech promising to set fire to Libya. But in Tripoli, there are no signs of the war which is engulfing other parts of the country, like Ras Lanuf and Zawiyah.’‘
Only those loyal to Gaddafi dare speak out our correspondent says. Any opposition is brutally repressed with arbitrary arrests, disappearances and torture of opponents said to be commonplace.
The message from authorities, however, is a different one, insisting it is the rebels who are terrorising civilians.
Libyan army spokesman Milad Hussein said: “All is going well, and now, most of the areas that were attacked are free. They do not need a big offensive. They are a bunch of rats and cats that are hiding behind weapons and terrorising civilians. Every area we, the People’s Armed Forces, enter, they raise their hands.”
Despite international pressure to step down, the strength of Gaddafi’s position appears to grow each day the conflict goes on. The Libyan leader has vowed to fight to the last bullet. He also appears content to play a waiting game, with supremacy of the skies and vastly superior firepower compared to his enemies.
Overall the outcome of what has become a civil war still remains in the balance. But, even though some troops defected to the rebels, Gaddafi still controls the bulk of the army, in particular, the elite militias. Dislodging him, without outside help, will be tough.