Anti-regime protesters in Libya are gaining ground against government forces that appear to be made up of the remnants of the Libyan military still loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and hired mercenaries imported into the country from outside its borders.
Earlier today the pro-democracy crowds claimed Libya's third-largest city, Misurati, giving them a high-population stronghold in the western part of the country. Reports from Al Jazeera English and CNN's Ben Wedeman have confirmed that the protesters also control the eastern border of the country shared with Egypt and that thousands of refugees have crossed over the past few days.
In the mean time, the forces of Colonel Gaddafi's regime continue to attack the once peaceful protesters, who have taken up arms in defense. The protests continue to spread and grow despite the regime's tight control over the media, communications networks and other infrastructure in the country. As the international community tries to find a consensus on how to protect or help the pro-democracy movement from the regime's forces, Gaddafi's grasp on his sanity appears to be loosening.
In his latest speech, mysteriously given by telephone, Gaddafi claims that the protesters are drugged 'children' under the influence of al Qaeda. The Colonel has been unwilling to acknowledge that the rebellion is a popularly organized movement of Libyans who no longer want his leadership. Gaddafi's statements have become more erratic and his appearance has deteriorated as he has lost control of Libya.
Middle East expert, scholar and historian Juan Cole estimates that the protesters now control 90 percent of Libya.