unable to rewrite/remap urls, any ideas why? (Apache 2.2)

Hello Experts,

I am having issues with my RewriteRules.... below are my server details:

Server version: Apache/2.2.26 (Unix)
Server built:   Mar  4 2014 19:02:56
Cpanel::Easy::Apache v3.24.11 rev9999

mod_rewrite is enabled...

The rule below works... but it behaves as a redirect

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example\.com$ [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.example\.com$
RewriteRule ^/pictures$ "http\:\/\/www\.example\.com\/index\.php\?rt\=pictures" [R=301,L]

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My objective is to clean the url... I tried the below code but I doesn't work

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example\.com$ [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.example\.com$
RewriteRule ^/pictures$ index.php?rt=pictures [NC,L]

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any ideas what I am doing wrong?
any suggestions to test?

thanks for your help.
epifanio67Asked:
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hieloCommented:
try:
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^(www\.)?example\.com$
RewriteRule ^/?(pictures)$ /index.php?rt=$1 [NC,L]

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Put a leading backslash infront of index.php

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epifanio67Author Commented:
it worked!!!!!
Thank you hielo.... I appreciate the help...
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