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Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi dispatched forces to a western border area on Tuesday in defiance of Western military and economic pressure, stirring fears that the bloodiest Arab revolt may grow more violent.

As the West weighed military options, suspicions grew that the veteran leader, in power for 41 years, did not grasp the strength of the forces now gathering against him.

In Moscow, a Kremlin source suggested Gaddafi should step down, calling him a “living political corpse who has no place in the modern civilized world,” Interfax news agency reported.

But Gaddafi appeared oblivious to outside pressure.

“All my people love me. They would die to protect me,” he told the U.S. ABC network and the BBC on Monday, dismissing the significance of a rebellion against his 41-year rule that has ended his control over much of eastern Libya.

Barely 12 hours after the United States said it was moving warships and air forces closer to the north African oil exporting country, Libyan forces re-asserted their presence at the remote Dehiba southern border crossing on Tuesday, decorating the border post with green Libyan flags.

Reporters on the Tunisian side saw Libyan army vehicles, and soldiers armed with Kalashnikov rifles. The previous day, there was no Libyan security presence at the border crossing. Dehiba is about 60 km (40 miles) from the town of Nalut.

Source: Maria Golovnina for Reuters.

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Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi dispatched forces to a western border area on Tuesday in defiance…