Pro-Gaddafi forces fight rebels in two cities
International pressure on Muammar Gaddafi to end a crackdown on opponents escalated on Monday as his loyalists fought rebels holding the two cities closest to the capital and his warplanes bombed an ammunition depot in the east.
The United States moved naval and air forces closer to Libya and said all options were open, including patrols of the North African nation's skies to protect its citizens from their ruler.
Also on Monday, France said it would fly aid to the opposition-controlled eastern half of the country. The European Union imposed an arms embargo and other sanctions, following the lead of the US and the UN. The EU was also considering the creation of a no-fly zone over Libya. And the U.S. and Europe were freezing billions in Libya's foreign assets.
"Gaddafi has lost the legitimacy to govern, and it is time for him to go without further violence or delay," US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said. "No option is off the table. That of course includes a no-fly zone," she added. British Prime Minister David Cameron told lawmakers: "We do not in any way rule out the use of military assets to deal with Gaddafi's regime".
Gaddafi, who in the past two weeks has launched the most brutal crackdown of any Arab regime facing a wave of popular uprisings, laughed off a question from ABC News about whether he would step down as the Obama administration demands.
"My people love me. They would die for me," he said. ABC reported that Gaddafi invited the United Nations or any other organisation to Libya on a fact-finding mission.