Tripoli: Thousands of pro-democracy protesters are closing in on the capital, Tripoli, where Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is holed up.
Forces loyal to Gaddafi continue the violent suppression of popular forces to prevent them from taking the fight to the capital. However, reports say pro-democracy protesters have taken control of parts of Tripoli.
Main cities including Zawiyah, some 50 km west of the capital, have been seized following the liberation of a number of eastern towns.
In Libya’s third-largest city Misurata, protesters have shot down a helicopter and captured its crew.
Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam has personally taken up arms and is leading pro-government forces in the city.
An estimated 2,000 people have been killed in the violence so far. The International Criminal Court has announced the launch of a preliminary probe into possible crimes against humanity committed in Libya.
The siege around Libya’s capital tightens as anti-government protesters expand their control.
The UN Human Rights Commissioner has warned the Gaddafi and his inner circle that deadly crackdown on civilians could amount to crimes under international law.
“It is a matter of great sadness that so much blood has been shed to usher in change. Let me reiterate that the illegal and excessively heavy-handed response of a number of governments is unacceptable,” Navi Pillay said in Geneva.
The developments come as popular revolutions continue to sweep the US-backed regimes across the Middle East and North Africa.