Nicaragua's leftist President Daniel Ortega says he has telephoned Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to express his solidarity.

Ortega says he has called several times this week because Gadhafi "is again waging a great battle" to defend the unity of his nation.

Human rights groups say more than 200 people have died as Libyan security forces crack down on protesters.

Ortega has long been an ally of the Libyan leader, based in part on a shared distrust of the United States.

Ortega says that "it's at difficult times that loyalty and resolve are put to the test."

Ortega made his comments Monday night at an event commemorating Nicaraguan revolutionary hero Augusto Cesar Sandino.