The civil war in Libya has continued to escalate, with the tide turning slightly toward the rebels protesting against the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, who has again targeted the western city of Misrata with a fierce bombardment.
Since Western nations began intervening in the conflict, what seemed an assured victory by Gadhafi has morphed into a stalemate and then a momentum shift toward the at times poorly equipped and poorly trained rebels who nonetheless control most of the eastern part of the country and vital oil ports.
A group including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates agreed to flood the rebels with more than $1 billion in aid. Other countries, most notably Italy, Turkey, and Russia, have entered into talks with rebel leaders.
Gadhafi, meanwhile, has been increasingly isolated. South African President Jacob Zuma was in Tripoli, the capital, not long ago to talk terms with Gadhafi, but the talks ended without an agreement. Despite the thousands of NATO-led airstrikes against Libyan government troops and positions and the resignation of many key government officials in the past several weeks, Gadhafi's position in and around Tripoli and other western parts remains strong.
One particularly hard-hit city is Misrata, a major city in the western part of the country that was seized by rebels in the early days of the uprising and has stayed in rebel hands despite a sustained siege campaign by Gadhafi forces.
NATO forces have concentrated on western positions, including helping to relieve the siege on Misrata, and on such cities as Zintan and Zuwarah, both west of Tripoli. The capital itself has come under bombardment many times, including several attacks on Gadhafi's compound, one that killed one of his sons and three of his grandchildren.
Both sides continue to seek a resolution that doesn't result in more deaths, and spokespeople for Western nations continue to insist that a resolution involving Gadhafi's exit is just around the corner.
Meanwhile, a United Nations Human Rights Council report asserts that in the four months of fighting, the death toll is at least 10,000 and possibly as high as 15,000.