ROME Muammar Gaddafi's former right-hand man Abdel Salam Jalloud, who has defected to the Libyan rebel side, said on Sunday Gaddafi would be toppled within 10 days.
Speaking on Italy's Rai News, Jalloud said Gaddafi's rule was "certainly" about to end and would be over "within a week, at the latest 10 days, maybe even less."
Libyan rebels battled their way toward Tripoli on Sunday to help fighters inside the city who rose up overnight. Gaddafi has described the insurgents as "rats.
Jalloud said in the televised interview he did not expect Gaddafi to flee to another country because all roads out of Tripoli were blocked.
He doubted that Gaddafi would surrender or commit suicide, but said "the way the situation is evolving, he won't be able to survive."
Jalloud was a member of the junta that staged the 1969 coup that brought Gaddafi to power, and was seen as second-in-command
before falling out of Gaddafi's favor.
In the 1990s he was reportedly stripped of his passport and put under surveillance following a disagreement with Gaddafi.
A rebel spokesman said on Friday Jalloud had defected to rebel-held territory, and Italy's Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said on Sunday he was on Italian soil.
(Reporting by Catherine Hornby; editing by Andrew Roche)