Internal and international pressure is mounting on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to stand down from power as protests continue against his 42-year rule. Within the country, anti-government protesters said the demonstrations were gaining support, and footage believed to be filmed on Friday appeared to show soldiers in uniform joining the protesters.
Al-Jazeera in Libya reported on Friday that army commanders in the east who had renounced Gaddafi's leadership had told her that military commanders in the country's west were also beginning to turn against him. They warned, however, that the Khamis Brigade, an army special forces brigade that is loyal to the Gaddafi family and is equipped with sophisticated weaponry, is currently still fighting anti-government forces.
Crackdown after prayers
Those worries were compounded as security forces loyal to Gaddafi reportedly opened fire on anti-government protesters in the capital, Tripoli, after Friday prayers. Heavy gun fire was reported in the districts of Fashloum, Ashour, Jumhouria and Souq Al, sources told Al Jazeera.
The offensive came after Gaddafi appeared in Tripoli's Green Square on Friday, to address a crowd of his supporters. The speech, which also referred to Libya's war of independence with Italy, appeared to be aimed at rallying what remains of his support base, with specific reference to the country's youth.
An earlier speech, on Thursday evening had been made by phone, leading to speculation about his physical condition. But the footage aired on Friday showed the leader standing above the square, waving his fist as he spoke. In the rooftop address Gaddafi urged his supporters below to "defend Libya".
"If needs be, we will open all the arsenals. We will fight them and we will beat them," he said..
Intimidating: Libyan anti-regime protesters wave machine guns and ammunition confiscated from soldiers in Benghazi
Ripped apart: Libyans walk through a destroyed room in Muarmar Gadaffi's former palace in the Libyan city of Benghazi