One month after the revolution in Libya began, 15-year-old Fatma Kader's elation has turned to tears. She is wracked with worry that forces loyal to Col. Muammar Gadhafi are marching deeper into eastern Libya and won't be stopped.
"Where's Obama?" she asks, so overcome with emotion she can barely speak. "They keep using this opportunity to kill us."
Osama Bensadik's bliss has turned to devastation. He came to eastern Libya – "free Libya," they call it here, with a new government and new flags flying – to help his son fight the revolution. They thought they had won. But today, he is looking for his son's body after he was shot fighting on the front lines.
"Everyone's asking for a no-fly zone. There's no comparison between the kids fighting with their small weapons and Gadhafi's forces with the major artillery," he says. "We are fighting for our dignity. I hope no more blood, no more fighting, no more death. But who is listening? No one is."
For the opposition, the fight is not going well. And as the United States and the international community continue to debate how to help, many here feel isolated, and they fear that assistance will come too late.
Fighters in Ajdabiyah, just 100 miles from the opposition stronghold Benghazi, say Gadhafi's forces have reached the edge of the city after bombarding the city repeatedly today. The opposition side is increasingly led by Special forces soldiers who defected from Gadhafi's military, and their leaders say they are trying to hold on until a no fly zone allows them to use tanks they have so far hid from Gadhafi's jets.
But they are having a hard time doing so, and some opposition officials say pro-Gadhafi fighters have entered the center of Ajdabiyah, a key crossroads from which highways lead to both Benghazi and the Egyptian border. And so opposition leaders and residents who have lived so long under tyranny sound more desperate in asking for assistance. They know they are fighting not only Gadhafi's planes but also the news cycle: the Japanese earthquake and tsunami now dominates headlines, distracting the international community and helping, along with security fears, to lead to an exodus of foreign NGO workers and journalists from Benghazi.
Representatives of the National Transition Council met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Paris on Monday night and asked for a no-fly zone and recognition of the council, according to U.S. officials and officials in Benghazi. But one U.S. official, speaking to a pool reporter, said one of the goal of the meeting was to "get a good understanding" of the council and their goals. That's light-years away from the concrete steps the opposition says it needs -- and needs quickly -- from the international community.
The requests for help -- especially a no-fly zone -- are echoed for hundreds of miles along the coast: by fighters on the front lines, protesters in Benghazi, residents of Tobruk, only 90 minutes from the Egyptian border. They may not be comfortable with the "no-fly zone" phrase, but they know what they want.