Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed reports this week that Muammar Qaddafi's wife, Sofia, and daughter, Aisha, have fled to Tunisia, and that the regime's oil minister, Shukri Ghanem, has defected, characterizing the developments as a sign that the NATO-led operation in Libya is progressing slowly but steadily. "The pressure on the Qaddafi regime has increased to the point that Qaddafi's wife and daughter fled across the border into Tunisia in the last two days," Clinton said in an interview with CBS News's Katie Couric on Thursday. "The oil minister has defected. There is an enormous amount of increased messaging going to Qaddafi, not just because of the military strikes but from those who he thought were in his camp or at least wouldn't try to push him to leave."
The Libyan government, meanwhile, is denying the reports. Spokesman Mussa Ibrahim told a press conference that Sofia "is fine, in good health and she is in Tripoli" and that Aisha (above, on right) "is also in Tripoli," without referencing Clinton's comments. Ibrahim added that Ghanem (above, on left) is conducting business in Tunisia, Europe, and Egypt but that "he is continuing to work, he's still a Libyan official."