On the road to Sirte, rebels had been advancing on Muammar Gaddafi’s last-remaining stronghold.
Some clashes were reported today but opposition fighters are not launching a full assault on the city until a surrender deadline set by their leaders expires on Saturday.
While all eyes are on the elusive Colonel’s hometown, its fall would not mean the downfall of Gaddafi himself, according to Professor Hasni Abidi of the Geneva-based Study and Research Center for the Arab and Mediterranean World.
“The Libyan regime is a regime based on a personality cult,” he told euronews. “I would tend to say that as long as the man is alive, as long as he benefits from some support beyond his tribe, he will retain his strength and ability to cause harm.
“Gaddafi, or his regime, benefits from the support of this city which has always been spoiled and indulged by the Libyan regime, to the extent of almost becoming Libya’s second capital.”
Rebel leaders are hoping for Sirte’s peaceful surrender but an all-out battle for the city could lie ahead. Gaddafi’s spokesman has been quoted as rejecting the Saturday deadline.