Former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has called for Libyans to turn out by the "millions" in protest against the provisional government that unseated him.
In an audio message broadcast on Thursday, Gadhafi urged Libyans to "be courageous, rise up" and "go to the streets." He said conditions in the country had become "unbearable."
He also warned leaders in developing nations who are now backing Libya's National Transitional Council [NTC] that they should be ready for the creation of other councils that could replace it.
Gadhafi's message was broadcast by the Syria-based Al-Rai television. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said it was not surprising that what she called Syria's "authoritarian regime" was trying to aid a "dictator" who did not know his time is over.
Gadhafi's whereabouts are unknown and it is not clear when the message was recorded. It was his first known message since mid-September.
Meanwhile, fighting continues in his hometown of Sirte - the site of intense battles between NTC fighters and well-armed Gadhafi loyalists.
In another development, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said NATO defense ministers are analyzing security conditions in Libya in order to determine when to end the allied bombing campaign. He commented from Brussels on Thursday, shortly before a two-day NATO meeting wrapped up.
Earlier Thursday, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said the NATO air campaign in Libya would continue as long as there were pockets of resistance and until the provisional government asks for the airstrikes to end.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.