The chief of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, said Saturday that civilians were being given a chance to leave Sirte, as battles raged over Muammar Gaddafi's hometown.
"A chance of two days has been given by the revolutionaries near Sirte so that civilians can leave the city. This chance may give the biggest number of residents the opportunity to leave. It started yesterday," Abdel Jalil told a news conference in Benghazi aired live on Libyan television.
However, Abdel Jalil gave no indication that this was in any way an ultimatum or that a major assault would follow the end of that period.
He also claimed the battles for the two remaining strongholds of Gaddafi support, Sirte on the coast and the desert town of Bani Walid, were going well.
"The battles for Sirte and Bani Walid are going very well and they are currently fighting on the basis of an organised plan between the two areas," he said.
"With God's grace victory will be achieved very soon."
Abdel Jalil said the two cities would not be excluded from Libya's future development despite the heavy resistance pro-Gaddafi fighters have put up there.
"No cities will be excluded ... from future progress and development," he said.