Tripoli is “essentially free” from Muammar Gaddadi’s rule, a NATO commander said on Tuesday. The comments from Col. Roland Lavoie are the clearest indication yet that Libya’s rebels are pushing Gaddafi to the brink. Lavoie also said that opposition fighters are in “discussions” with the regime in Sirte, Gaddafi’s birthplace and one of his last bastions of support. NATO’s mission in Libya will continue as long as civilians are under threat, Lavoie told reporters. On Monday, Algeria confirmed that Gaddafi’s wife and kids had fled to that country.