Gadhafi Defiant as Fierce Fighting Continues

On Wednesday afternoon, an ABC News team was caught behind a wall as sniper rounds hit the road around them. A rebel was shot in the neck and died.

Gadhafi "is indeed leading the battle for our freedom and independence," his spokesman told the Associated Press by telephone, adding that the man who led Libya for almost 42 years is in good spirits and would continue resisting for "weeks, months and years."

Meanwhile, rebel fighters advanced on the city of Sirte, Gadhafi's hometown, about halfway between Tripoli and the rebel capital Benghazi. Still flying the green Gadhafi flag, loyalists reportedly blocked the rebel advance about 60 miles away from the city.

"You know I thought, Hey, Gadhafi ran away, they got Tripoli, game over," a rebel fighter with a distinct American accent told the BBC. "They must believe in this guy, I don't know. But we got him in a corner now, it's just a matter of time."

In Italy, top NTC official Mahmoud Jibril made an urgent plea for financial assistance from foreign governments to stabilize Libya. The stop was part of a tour of foreign capitals asking them to free up billions of dollars of frozen Libyan assets.

Italy promised to unfreeze about $500 million. The United Nations is releasing $500 million after South Africa was persuaded to drop its objection. A further $1 billion is being sought at the UN for immediate humanitarian aid, while the U.S., France and the U.K. try to persuade China and Russia to back a resolution unfreezing all assets.

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"This is an easy way for us to stand on the side of the Libyan people, to be supportive of their efforts to put in place a government that will acknowledge freedoms, that will acknowledge democracy," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

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