VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. — A vacationing President Barack Obama was being kept up to date by aides on developments in Libya and U.S. officials were in touch with their contacts in that country Saturday to determine the progress of rebel troops advancing on Libya's capital, Tripoli.
A senior administration official said the president was briefed during the day on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., and would continue to get regular updates, including through the night if necessary. A second senior official said the administration was in close contact with the Libyan opposition and U.S. allies and partners, and believes that Moammar Gadhafi's days in power are numbered.
It is unclear to some U.S. analysts, however, whether these latest developments translate to a tipping point.
Analysts have concluded that Gadhafi's well-known mercurial decision-making style means he could decide within hours to flee, or stay to the bitter end.
If Gadhafi flees or is otherwise deposed, the administration plans to voice the support of the U.S. and its partners in the international community for the opposition and assist it as the country makes a transition to democracy, officials say. But the administration will also continue to stress that this is a matter for the Libyan people to decide.
The officials, both with the White House and with other agencies, spoke anonymously to discuss sensitive diplomatic matters.
Reporters in Tripoli heard gunfire and explosions after rebel troops seized control of Zawiya, a major coastal city not far from the capital. Rebel leaders called it the start of an attack on Gadhafi's main stronghold.
Obama spent most of Saturday at his vacation compound on this island off Cape Cod. He dropped in briefly at a reception hosted by his friend and former law school professor, Charles Ogletree, but was back at the complex in just over an hour.