"NORMAL LIBYAN PEOPLE"
Libyan officials deny attacking civilians in Misrata, saying they are fighting armed gangs linked to al Qaeda. Accounts from Misrata cannot be independently verified as Libyan authorities are not allowing journalists to report freely from there.
The rebels say they are fighting for an end to decades of oppression under one of the world's longest serving leaders and have no Islamist militant agenda. They deny al Qaeda links.
"They say they don't know who we are and we could be al Qaeda. When we hear this, we honestly don't know what they are talking about," Abdelsalam said.
"We are doctors, lawyers, engineers, normal Libyan people. We had no choice but to take up arms."
Neighbouring Algeria has said AQIM -- al Qaeda's North African wing -- was noticeably ramping up its presence in Libya and that a prolonged conflict across its desert frontier risked destabilising the Sahel region further.
Meanwhile, living conditions in Misrata have worsened.
"People are panicking, especially women, children and old people. Most people left their homes for safer areas and found refuge with other families," Abdelsalam said.
"No fruit and vegetables have been available in Misrata for over 25 days, bread is also difficult to find. People are scared to go out because of the snipers and the indiscriminate shelling. The upper-hand is still with Gaddafi's forces."
In Zintan, a rebel spokesman said government forces, who have remained on the outskirts of the city, had also launched attacks. "Gaddafi's forces shelled the north of the city from 3 a.m. today until 8.30 a.m.," said spokesman Abdulrahman.
He said the last NATO strike around Zintan, southwest of Tripoli, was on Friday. "They hit a radar. They know where Gaddafi's army is positioned. Why don't they hit them?"