We are tracking the latest developments to keep you updated on the situation on the ground. There are interactive maps located in the Protest map page to keep up with the latest movements. Also check out the featured twitters on the sidebar. On the Go? Follow us on Twitter @Feb17Libya for the Live updates and discussion. All updates are in Libyan local time (GMT+2)
The rebel delegation made the request to Mr. Sarkozy in Paris during a meeting on Wednesday. The delegation includes a representative of western Libya’s rebel-controlled city of Misrata, Suleiman Fortia. After the meeting, he said the rebels believe they can march on the Libyan capital within “days” with “a bit of help” from friends such as France.
5:30pm: Libyan rebels in Misrata say they have captured the chief of operations of government forces in Zlitan on the first day of their offensive against the town. A member of the Misrata Military Council, Hassan Duwa, said the general was captured as rebel units advanced towards Zlitan late on Wednesday. ”He was in his house, 11 guys surrounded the house.”
“We have him in custody. He is being well looked after,” said Mohamed Frefr, in charge of detainees for the rebels. “After three days talking with him we will hand him to the military prison.”
5:05pm: Libyan rebels said a fierce counter-attack by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi had checked their gains on a frontline east of Tripoli on Thursday. A rebel spokesman in Zlitan, on the coast road 160 km (100 miles) east of the capital, said pro-Gaddafi forces backed by tanks had surrounded rebels who had seized the nearby town of Souk al-Thulatha the previous day.
Matthew VanDyke went to Libya to write about the uprising against Muammar Qaddafi. He was there about a week when he disappeared in March.
Maryland Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger’s spokeswoman said Thursday there have been two independent sightings of the 32-year-old in a Tripoli prison and that the State Department is working to confirm them. The State Department did not immediately return a call for comment.
The writer’s mother, Sharon VanDyke, also said early Thursday that her son was imprisoned in Tripoli and was in good health. She says government officials will be working to bring him home.She declined to say how she got the information.
2:00pm: Four Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 fast jets have arrived at Gioia del Colle air base in southern Italy following last week’s announcement that the additional aircraft will provide further support to UK operations over Libya.
The aircraft, flown by crews from RAF Lossiemouth, mark a significant increase in the RAF’s reconnaissance capabilities as part of Operation ELLAMY over Libya.
One of the jets arrived fitted with a RAPTOR (Reconnaissance Airborne Pod for Tornado) device which enables the aircraft to provide detailed reconnaissance imagery over large areas.
As a secondary function, the Tornado GR4 jets will also be available to boost the strike capability of NATO operations over Libya.
Speaking from Gioia del Colle, Officer Commanding 2 (Army Cooperation) Squadron, Wing Commander Nick Tucker-Lowe, said:
“The arrival of the additional GR4s will be a considerable boost to the already potent combat intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability that the Tornado GR Force already brings to Operation ELLAMY.
1:00pm: Chinese President Hu Jintao told his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, on Thursday that China will work with the African Union in finding a solution to the Libyan crisis, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Turkey and the African Union have proposed separate road maps aimed at establishing a ceasefire and moving through stages from Muammar Gaddafi quitting power to a democratic transition. .
China said last Thursday it would skip last week’s meeting in Turkey between Western powers, Arab governments and leaders of Libya’s opposition National Transitional Council, saying that the way the group worked needed “further study”. .
“South Africa and the African Union have played an important role in pushing a political solution for the Libyan issue, which shows the resolve of African countries to ‘use an African method to solve an African issue,’” Hu told Zuma.
“China greatly appreciates this, and is willing to continue remaining in close touch and coordinate closely with South Africa and the African Union on the Libya issue.”
11:00am: Slovenia announced on Wednesday that it recognizes the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.
The Slovenian government made the announcement two days after its Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar said in Brussels that Slovenia may recognize the Benghazi-based Libyan rebel forces after elections are held in Libya.
Addressing an EU foreign ministers meeting, Zbogar said that the recognition of the NTC should be uniform throughout the European Union and that the legal framework for recognizing the Libyan rebels should be harmonized.
Also on Wednesday, Slovenian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Dragoljuba Bencina left for Benghazi, taking with her a large shipment of medicine, according to the Slovenian Press Agency.
8:28am: Libya’s rebels asked France for extra arms to help them overrun Tripoli within “days”, as they ramped up a pre-Ramadan offensive that has Moamer Qadhafi’s troops on the run in the east.
The request was made in Paris on Wednesday to French President Nicolas Sarkozy by military leaders from the rebel-held city of Misrata, a member of their delegation said.
Sarkozy held talks at his Elysee presidential palace with rebel General Ramadan Zarmuh, Colonel Ahmed Hashem and Colonel Brahim Betal Mal, as well as Suleiman Fortia, a local representative of the rebel leadership in Misrata.
“With a little bit of help, we will be in Tripoli very soon. Very soon means days,” Fortia told reporters after the meeting. “We are here in France to discuss how we can do the job.” Read full story here.
5:02am: The White House says it is up to the Libyan people to decide whether longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi can stay in Libya if he steps down from power.
White House spokesman Jay Carney says the U.S. continues to believe that Gadhafi has lost legitimacy and needs to give up power. But he says the U.S. will not make a determination about where Gadhafi should go if that happens.
Carney’s comments come as France’s foreign minister suggested a possible way to end the conflict in Libya would be to allow Gadhafi to stay in his country if he steps down. Gadhafi insists he will neither step down nor flee the country he has led for four decades.