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Peace Talks Continue as Fighting Presses on in Libya
July 5, 2011

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Reports increasingly point to a negotiated settlement to the armed struggle in Libya, with the latest a Russian newspaper claiming to have proof that Col. Moammar Gadhafi is on the way out.

The North African country has been a battleground for several months now, with Gadhafi holding on to increasingly smaller parts of the western part of the country, including Tripoli, the capital, and rebels financed and armed by Western nations expanding from their base in the eastern half of the country. Early on, all signs pointed to a quick reunion, with Gadhafi and his armed mercenaries in control of the country's most well-equipped and -trained forces and knocking on the door of the rebel operations center, Benghazi. But the country's second-largest city withstood that challenge, thanks in large part to a withering series of airstrikes by NATO nations beginning in March.

Since then, rebels have slowly but surely taken over more territory. They seized a key western city, Misrata, and held onto it through a devastating siege from pro-government forces, then turned the tables on Gadhafi by advancing out of Misrata and toward Tripoli. As a result, several nations have recognized rebel leaders as potentially in charge of the government in a post-Gadhafi Libya. The colonel himself is the target of an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court.

Progress remains slow, however, and resolve in some NATO nations has wavered in recent weeks. Libyan rebel leaders have offered to let Gadhafi stay in the country if he leaves his post as leader of the government, an offer echoed by the African Union. The government continues to reject such offers.

Meanwhile, the death toll creeps higher, numbering in the thousands, including a large number of unarmed civilians. A United Nations Human Rights Council report has asserted that in the nearly five months of fighting, the death toll is at least 10,000 and possibly as high as 15,000.

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