New this morning: Gadhafi is trying to strike a deal

Photo by Melissa Abrahamsen

Photo by Melissa Abrahamsen

LIBYA - Moammar Gadhafi is trying to strike a deal with opposition leaders, saying he will step down as Libya's leader if they can guarantee him safe passage out of the country and promise that neither he nor his family will face prosecution, an official with the opposition said Tuesday.

Musa Ibrahim, a government spokesman, vehemently disputed the claim saying reports of negotiations with the opposition are "lies."

Despite government denials, a member of the opposition says it has submitted counter-offers with several demands. Among them is a stipulation that Gadhafi has to immediately concede he is not the ruler of Libya, said Amal Bugaigis, a member of the opposition group called the February 17 Coalition.

The development comes as Libya enters its fourth week of bloody clashes Tuesday and there was little doubt that the situation had turned into all-out civil war.

Rebels have seized several cities from government control and the army has fiercely fought to reclaim some of them.

Death toll estimates have ranged from more than 1,000 to as many as 2,000. Thousands more have fled the country, prompting a human rights group to once again urge both sides to allow humanitarian aid in.

Late Monday night, the Gulf Cooperation Council said Libya had rejected its offer of humanitarian aid. The council is comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile, Gadhafi took aim at the rebel-controlled town of Ras Lanuf, launching aerial strikes Monday to crush the uprising against him.

Gadhafi's aerial forces targeted the main road heading into the oil town after launching another air strike earlier, five kilometers (3.1 miles) southeast of the city. The opposition fired anti-aircraft guns in response.

The protests against Gadhafi began February 15 as anti-government demonstrators sought the ouster of the 68-year-old Gadhafi who has ruled for nearly 42 years.