By CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr and CNN's Jomana Karadsheh
A US defense official confirms forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi fired a short range Scud missile on Sunday at a rebel stronghold, but by all accounts the missile failed to reach its target. The official said the missile was launched from a government held area 50 miles east of Sirte and it landed 50 miles east of Brega in the desert. A senior NATO official called it a ‘desperation’ move by the regime.
In an address broadcast Monday on Libyan state television, Gadhafi urged Libyans to fight opposition forces and "cleanse this sweet and honorable land."
Cheers from the crowd accompanied the speech, cries of "Allah, Libya, Gadhafi and nothing else" at times drowning out Gadhafi.
"We dance and sing despite the strikes! The strikes will be over and NATO will be defeated," Gadhafi said. "Move always forward to the challenge; pick up your weapons; go to the fight in order to liberate Libya inch by inch from the traitors and from NATO. Be prepared to fight if they hit the ground."
Rebels have been reporting major advances toward their goal of cutting off Libya's coastal road, the Tripoli regime's lifeline, and reaching the capital.
In the coastal city of al-Zawiya, clashes were ongoing.
"At the moment, it's quite hard to say who is in complete control of the city," said Deborah Haynes, a reporter for the Times of London who left the city Monday. "The rebels say they have 80% of it under their control, but it is a very fluid situation."
Pro-Gadhafi snipers were holed up in buildings in the main square, where rebels were firing at them with rocket-propelled grenades, she said.
Rebel fighters controlled all but the eastern part of the city, said Hassan Jwaili, who is a rebel fighter and a source who has proven reliable in the past.
Gadhafi forces shelled al-Zawiya with Grad rockets from nearby Janzur, killing two rebels, bringing the number of dead in al-Zawiya to 11, with dozens more wounded, Jwaili said.
NATO airstrikes, though, have hit Gadhafi forces in Janzur, aiding the rebels, he said.