- BBC correspondents in Libya say rebel forces are facing increasingly serious resistance from government forces as they move westwards from their stronghold in Benghazi
- Residents have been fleeing the oil port town of Ras Lanuf. Bin Jawad, a smaller town 50km to the west, has fallen to troops loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi
- The UN says Libya has agreed to let a team in to assess the humanitarian situation
- The UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, Valerie Amos, has said she wants aid workers to be allowed to visit Misrata, the scene of some of the heaviest fighting. She has also launched a $160m emergency appeal for aid to help with the humanitarian crisis caused by the violence
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That's where the BBC's live coverage of Libya ends for today. Rebel forces have been engaged in intense fighting with pro-Gaddafi troops and there is no sign of the leader easing his grip on power. Stay with the
website for all the latest developments from Libya and the wider world.
The BBC's Barbara Plett at the UN says that even among supporters of a no-fly zone there is scepticism about the wisdom and effectiveness of one being imposed. "Some diplomats suggest it would be more of a political measure to satisfy public demands for action."
But a spokesman for the council told Reuters: "No such offer has been been put to the council as far as I am aware."
Reuters says that there is still no official confirmation on the offer Col Gaddafir is reported to have made to the rebels. But a source said to be close to the rebel council told the agency that "one formula being proposed by the other side would see Gaddafi hand power to the head of parliament and leave the country with a certain guaranteed sum of money".
But instead, said Mr Kusa, the president "spoke like a child" when he said those people who had sided with Col Gaddafi should be punished.
Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Kusa held a press conference earlier today. (See 2003). He refered to comments by President Barack Obama, saying Libya was "very happy that he is an African American, the first African president". Mr Kusa said he thought Mr Obama was "a democratic man and he would extend his hand to others, especially people of the Third World because he came from that world".
Don't forget that there's extensive background information on the crisis Libya as well as analysis of all the developments on our
Middle East and Arab unrest
special report page.
Libyan state TV has been showing footage this evening of what it says is the "liberated city of Bin Jawad and Ras Lanuf", saying they had been retaken by pro-Gaddafi troops.
The US is increasing its financial aid to relief groups in Libya from $15m to $30m, say officials. The money will help those organisations to "meet the most urgent humanitarian needs both inside and outside Libya," said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor.
The rebels rejected the deal as it would mean an "honourable" exit for Col Gaddafi, Reuters quotes the channel as saying.
More details now on the offer Al-Jazeera says Col Gaddafi has offered to the rebels. The channel's correspondent in Benghazi was told by the rebels that the leader had asked for safe passage for his family and immunity from prosecution. They would hold a People's Congress to discuss the details, it reports.
"We have to pay a price for liberation," a former army commander who defected to the rebels told the Associated Press today. "We are aware of the dangers facing us and what weapons they have. As you see, most of our weapons are light ones and most of the fighters are civilians."
tweets: "I am 100% against Gaddafi stepping down in return for his safety. You killed 1000s, and want to walk out like you did nothing? NO WAY."
Most of the migrants are arriving on the small southern island of Lampedusa. Port authority spokesman Vittorio Alessandro told SkyTG24 that the journey could soon become even more dangerous. "We are expecting a worsening of conditions and this puts the lives of people who have set sail at risk," he said.
Mr Maroni, a member of the anti-immigration Northern League, has been among the Italian officials calling for EU help to handle the huge increase in the number of people entering Europe through Italy.
Italy's Interior Minister Roberto Maroni has said Europe is "being invaded" by migrants fleeing unrest in north Africa. "Around 8,000 illegal immigrants have arrived in the past month - a lot more than the number who came over the whole of 2010," he told reporters.
Al-Jazeera is reporting that the Benghazi rebels have rejected Col Gaddafi's offer of talks, but details of what that offer was - and whether it was genuine - are still not clear.
tweets: "I'm saddened that the peoples revolution in #Libya has seemingly lost momentum BUT I keep the faith."
No further word as yet on that report. Al-Jazeera said Col Gaddafi has made the offer to the rebels.
Al-Jazeera has just reported that Col Gaddafi is to hold a people's congress to let him stand down with guarantees. There have been various unverified rumours to this effect on Twitter today.
Writing in the Telegaph,
Con Coughlin says the UK mission into Benghazi - widely considered to have been bungled - "sums up the naivety that has characterised the British response to the Libyan crisis".
Omnia Abdul, from Manchester who has family members in Libya, tells the BBC: "Even though so many people have died, we are proud of the courage that people have shown. We heard that three of my father's relatives were killed in Zawiya, although thankfully those living in Benghazi are fine. We also know that a few friends are missing."
Nato has now decided to boost flights of AWACs surveillance planes over Libya from 10 to 24 hours a day, the US Ambassador to Nato, Ivo Daalder, says.
The pro-rebel Voice of Free Libya radio station in the east of the country reports that "a group of combatants (is now) on the outskirts of Sirte".
Up to one million foreign workers and others trapped in Libya are expected to need emergency aid because of fighting, aid officials are quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
tweets: "Many martyrs in #Zawya today, we cannot let their deaths go to waste."
tweets: "Saif #Gaddafi sent three planes full of weapons & cash to Kufrah. Before the first plane landed, Kufrah had joined the revolution."
The Gaddafi regime is in a belligerant, confident mood believing that its military offensive in the western and central areas is succeeding in winning ground from anti-government forces, the BBC's Wyre Davies in Tripoli says.
tweets: "So the Gulf Arabs States are in favor of a NFZ (no-fly zone) over #Libya how do you think it will play out at the Arab League Summit?"
Zein Abedin, a Benghazi resident, tells the BBC he would welcome military intervention in the fight against Col Gaddafi's regime: "Some other places around Tripoli, and mostly around the western area where he (Gaddafi) has his militia groups stationed - maybe some bombing will help. But certainly a no-fly zone over Libya would be very helpful because then he cannot use his airplanes to bomb people on the ground."
In his interview with Al Arabiya (see 1949) Saadi Gaddafi appeared to partly blame his brother, Saif al-Islam, for the unrest. He said Saif al-Islam and ministers had been charged with addressing concerns over issues such as rising prices, but that "there are things they did not do", Reuters reports.
Phil Campion, a former SAS lance corporal, told the BBC the UK mission into Benghazi should be seen as successful. "A team has gone into a hostile environment against overwhelming odds, they've done their job. Everybody who's gone in came out again." He said that once detained, the mission had "come to a diplomatic solution to what was a very difficult situation".
tweets: "Good to see NATO, US, Gulf countries speaking out more today than ever in the past 3 weeks. Hope something can be done."
Our correspondent says he and his colleagues were themselves detained on Monday at a military checkpoint. "We we were trying to get to one of the closest towns outside Tripoli where there was heavy bombardment and we know there was loss of life. We were held several hours before being turned back."
The BBC's Wyre Davies in Tripoli says: "It's difficult to ascertain exactly what is happening, because despite written promises to the UN from the regime that reporters like me are allowed to travel around and see everything we want, in practice it is almost impossible."
"The English" are "yearning for the colonial era of the past", he said. "The first nations who started getting in touch with the secessionists were the English, also the French and the Americans."
More from Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Kusa, who has accused Western powers of conspiring against Libya. "It's clear they are getting in touch with the defected people of eastern Libya. It's clear there is a conspiracy to divide Libya," he told a news conference.
Foreign minister from the six-nation Gulf Arab states bloc have released this statement on Libya: "The Gulf Cooperation Council demands that the UN Security Council take all necessary measures to protect civilians, including enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya."
More from Saadi Gaddafi, who earlier told Al Arabiya TV Libya was facing civil war. "The tribes are all armed, there are forces from the Libyan army and the eastern region is armed. The situation is not like Tunisia or Egypt," he said. "From the perspective of a civil war, the leader must play a very, very big role in calming Libya and convincing people to sit together. If something happened to the leader, who would be in control? A civil war would start."
Reuters is reporting that the foreign ministers of the Gulf Arab states have called for a no-fly zone to be imposed over Libya.
For a quick overview of what is happening where in Libya, we now have an
showing the key events in all the main towns and cities.
Mr Oliver said he felt it was a mistake for Britain to close its embassy in Tripoli. "I'm sure there were security reasons for doing so. I'm equally sure there were security reasons for closing the British consulate in Hanoi when the Americans were bombing Vietnam. But we didn't, we stayed open," he told the BBC. "This is something people join the diplomatic service to do and I'm surprised that we left."
Speaking on the UK mission to contact rebel leaders in Benghazi, the former British ambassador to Libya, Oliver Miles, said it seemed "a strange way of introducing yourself to a new regime". He said it was right to talk with the rebels, "but it's got to be done with finesse".
The US ambassador to Nato, Ivo Daalder, said there had been a fall in air activity in Libya in recent days, and questioned how useful a no-fly zone would be. "The capabilities that are being used to attack the rebel forces and indeed the population will be largely unaffected by a no-fly zone," he said.
Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Kusa has said the US, Britain and France are engaged in "a conspiracy to divide Libya", by contacting rebel groups, AFP reports.
Jon Leyne says that the government has, in theory, a lot of military equipment and planes in Sirte, but that very little has been used so far. The question is whether Col Gaddafi has enough loyal troops remaining to operate them.
There are reports from Sirte, says our correspondent, of troops using residents as human shields. While this can't be verified, he says, "certainly the government is acting much more ruthlessly".
The BBC's Jon Leyne in Benghazi says no-one should underestimate the determination of the rebel forces. They believe that if the city falls to Gaddafi loyalists, they will be massacred, he says. "They really are going to put up a tough fight, even if outgunned."
The BBC's Diplomatic Correspondent Bridget Kendall says the UK government appears to have blundered several times over its policy on Libya. But behind this, she says, "looms a more troubling problem of how to forge a wider strategy
when the outcome of a crisis hangs in the balance".
Saadi Gaddafi has told Al Arabiyah TV that if his father stands down, Libya will descend into civil war. He said the country could become a new Somalia, with tribes fighting against each other, Reuters reports.
"What is clear is that it all went badly wrong and nearly ended in a disastrous shoot-out," he continues. "Instead of making contact with friendly forces on the ground as expected, the team were quickly surrounded by militias, suspicious of their intentions. When asked today whether it would not have made more sense to simply dock by boat in Benghazi harbour and take a taxi to meet the rebel leadership, the Whitehall official conceded that, yes, that probably would have been wiser."
BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner says the covert SAS mission to send a team into northern Libya was doomed almost as soon as it began, as the noisy Chinook alerted troops on the ground to their presence.
Al Jazeera English's
tweets: "Rebels still composed mostly of untrained civilians, but their equipment and weapons are improving and their organization a bit better ... "Have also seen ex-"special forces," defected troops who say they're from Benghazi, but they haven't been in the fighting."
The BBC's Pascal Harter in Benghazi says people are feeling much less certain than they had been. There are fears that if Col Gaddafi survives, there would be serious repercussions for anyone who had spoken out against him in recent weeks, often for the first time in their lives.
of MercyCorps tweets: "75% of #Libya foodstuffs imported and distributed from Tripoli. Serious concerns about food supply if situation continues... Citizens of Benghazi say no food shipments from Tripoli have come since uprising began."
Mr Carney continued: "You have to be very cognisant when you pursue these options of what it is you are trying to accomplish. It would be premature to send a bunch of weapons to a PO Box in eastern Libya, we need to not get ahead of ourselves."
This is what White House spokesman Jay Carney had to say on sending US troops to Libya: "The option of providing military assistance is on the table because no options have been removed from the table."
The minister said that "massacres committed by the regime" should be condemned but warned against foreign intervention, saying it was important for Libya to assert its "full commitment towards maintaining the national unity of the Libyan people and the sovereignty, unity and safety of its lands".
More now from Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, foreign minister of the UAE. He told a meeting of his regional counterparts that the "protection and safeguarding of the Libyan people citizens is an absolute priority at this critical stage".
Red Cross spokesman Christian Cordon told the BBC aid workers need urgent access to the as yet unreached parts of the country. "The priority for us is really to have access to the capital, to Tripoli and also to the western part of Libya where, as we've heard, [there are] many rumours and information of heavy clashes and fighting."
If you're just joining us, welcome to the BBC's live coverage of events in Libya, where rebel forces are facing an increasingly tough fight against pro-Gaddafi troops. We're bringing you reports from correspondents on the ground, expert analysis, and reaction from around the world. You can contact us via email, text or twitter. We'll publish what we can.
The White House says it has not ruled out the use of ground troops in Libya, but that the option is not high on its list, Reuters reports.
Libyan TV has highlighted what it said were remarks made by South African President Jacob Zuma in a phone conversation with Col Gaddafi, BBC Monitoring reports. It quoted Mr Zuma as calling on the African Union to "take decisive action and uncover the conspiracy that Libyan is facing". It also quoted him as "stressing the need not to depend on tendentious reports circulated by foreign media outlets" and the need to listen to the Libyan media in this regard.
The major Libyan oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Brega are closed, shipping sources have told the Reuters news agency. The last oil tanker left Ras Lanuf on Monday, they added. Both towns have seen major clashes between pro- and anti-government forces in recent days. However, another shipping source said the eastern port of Tobruk was operational.
Mr Essebsi has also announced that the Tunisian secret police has been dissolved. The BBC's Magdi Abdelhadi says this has been a key demand of the anti-government protesters who toppled President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January. "Scrapping this much hated agency will be seen as the ultimate victory over the Ben Ali regime, under which it played a key role in suppressing the opposition," he says. "The decision to dissolve the secret police was announced shortly after the appointment of a new transitional government that has no ministers who served under Mr Ben Ali. With this, the Tunisian revolution appears to have met two of its main goals."
More from Tunisia, where a new group of ministers has been appointed. Prime Minister Caid Essebsi has said that the security situation is improving, that he is trying to reform the regime, and that he needs the help of everyone, including the media, during the interim period.
At least one person is thought to have died after a pick-up truck carrying a family was hit by in an airstrike in the eastern Libyan oil town of Ras Lanuf. Witnesses said one man had died and two children had been injured severely. One witness said a child had been killed. "The inside of the car and parts of the outside are splattered with blood, and children's shoes are scattered inside," said Reuters correspondent Mohammed Abbas. "All the windows are blown out."
Channel 4's Lindsey Hilsum
tweets: "Asked a rebel why are you fighting? He said: 'ask not what yr country can do for you, but what you can do for yr country' #c4news #Libya"
Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the rebel Transitional National Council, has told the BBC why it detained members of the armed British team when they arrived by helicopter on Friday night: "If they wanted to do something confidential or keep it classified, they could have just sent a message and we would have welcomed them through the seaport, or Benina airport. We would have kept it quiet and listened to them, and discussed with them whatever they wanted. But the way they came, it was quite suspicious, and the council took the position that we really don't want to discuss anything with this particular team."
The BBC's Pascale Harter has been gauging public opinion in the rebel-held city of Benghazi. "The Libyans who want to get rid of Colonel Gaddafi do want a form of outside help and they'll tell you they want it now. The help they want is a no-fly zone to prevent air attacks against them," she says. "In fact, they want to know why the United States and EU aren't already taking steps. After all, they ask, haven't these nations already said Col Gaddafi is using disproportionate force against his own people? What anti-government activists will tell you they do not want are foreign troops on the ground - that would give credence to Col Gaddafi's claim that the unrest is the work of outside forces. And that's why the rebel National Council won credibility by arresting the British special forces mission which arrived on Friday. Their expulsion has boosted the council's reputation, but embarrassed the UK."
Writing in Foreign Policy
, Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, says a US-led no-fly zone over Libya would "not make a difference" to the two main objectives which have been proposed - protecting civilians and precipitating regime change.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reiterated his opposition to military intervention in Libya, the RIA Novosti news agency reports. Russia has the power to veto any resolution on the matter at the UN Security Council.
The BBC's Barbara Plett, who is at UN headquarters in New York, reports: "A British diplomat has told the BBC that the UK and France has drawn up elements of a UN resolution authorising a no-fly zone in case world leaders decided it is time for such a move. He said this was a contingency measure. There are no current plans to table the resolution or begin negotiations on it. Diplomats here have said possible triggers would be a massive humanitarian emergency in Libya or widespread attacks on civilians. So far, UN bodies have voted with unusual speed and unity for steps against the Libyan government, but there is strong opposition for some Security Council members to military operations such as a no fly zone."
Mohammed adds: "The youths of the city are cleaning up the mess left by yesterday's battle. But there are rumours - and at this stage they remain rumours - that maybe the dictator's forces are back for some more. However, that has not materialised so far. Our military guys are organising their ranks again. We cannot take anything for granted and we cannot let our guard down. We are patching our wounds and are ready to defend our city. We wait for our friends from the east so that we can push forward to Tripoli. Hopefully soon."
Mohammed, a resident of the western Libyan town of Misrata, has told the BBC that the rebels are still in control of the town despite continued attacks by supporters of Col Gaddafi. "We buried 21 young men today - the casualties of yesterday's battle. We hear that Gaddafi's forces are gathering to the west of the city so it's quiet here but tense, very tense. Misrata is free of Gaddafi's forces - totally free. I'm confident that we'll do all we can to fight the murderous dictator's forces."
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has meanwhile cautioned during a visit to Afghanistan that any foreign military intervention in Libya "should be the result of international sanction".
Mr Obama added: "In the meantime, we've got Nato consulting in Brussels around a wide range of potential options, including potential military options, in response to the violence that continues to take place in Libya. In addition, we have taken the lead on a host of humanitarian efforts. I just authorised an additional $15m that will be provided to aid organisations that are already on the ground. We have also been co-ordinating with the United Nations to make sure people are getting the help they need. And we are in a position to respond to any additional emergencies that may emerge out of this situation. We stand for democracy and an observance of human rights. We send a very clear message to the Libyan people that we will stand with them in the face of unwarranted violence and the continuing suppression of democratic ideals that we have seen there."
Here is more of President Obama's statement on Libya: "Both Prime Minister Gillard and I share a very firm conviction that the violence that has taken place and perpetrated by the government is unacceptable. Australia joined with us in imposing swift and firm sanctions against the Libyan government. We continue to monitor the violence there. I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Col Gaddafi - it is there choice to make how they operate moving forward. They will be held accountable for whatever violence takes place there."
The foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates has meanwhile called on the UN Security Council to "protect" the Libyan people.
US President Barack Obama has said Nato is considering military options in response to the situation in Libya. Speaking after talks with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Washington, Mr Obama also warned the Libyan government that violence against is people was unacceptable and that those responsible would be held accountable.
More from the rebel spokesman in Misrata. He tells the BBC he is confident eastern rebel forces will eventually be able to move beyond Bin Jawad, take Sirte and then move to Misrata. "There is discontent in Sirte, it is not all pro-Gaddafi. Once the rebels are on the periphery of Sirte, let's see what happens. We could be in for a big surprise there, a nice one."
A spokesman for rebels in Misrata says they expect more attacks on the town. He tells the BBC World Service: "If this siege carries on for a long time, the situation will get desperate. But we are waiting for our friends from the east to arrive, so we can push together towards Tripoli."
A British diplomat tells the BBC that Britain and France have drawn up elements of a UN resolution authorising a no-fly zone over Libya. He said this was contingency planning in case world leaders decided such a zone was necessary - there are no current plans to table the resolution or launch negotiations. Diplomats say possible triggers for such a move might be a massive humanitarian emergency or gross and systematic violations of human rights.
tweets: "Airplanes flying over Zintan" - #feb17 #libya - http://t.co/ZB3hOWh"
Italy has been expressing concern for some time about the number of people arriving its southern shores after fleeing the North African unrest. Italian Senator Lucio Malan told the BBC that Italy had been very compassionate so far, but that the rest of Europe needed to help. "They are not coming to Italy, they are coming to the European Union," he said of the refugees.
AFP news agency cites witnesses as saying that pro-Gaddafi forces have carried out an air strike against a civilian car in Ras Lanuf.
British opposition foreign affairs spokesman Douglas Alexander says news that British personnel were being held in Libya was latest incident to raise "serious questions" about the government's handling of events in Libya.
Mr Hague, speaking in parliament, says a British "diplomatic" team sent to Libya in recent days was withdrawn after "serious misunderstanding" about their role (see 1024 entry).
British Foreign Secretary William Hague says there is a clear risk of protracted conflict in Libya. He says Col Gaddafi must hand over power without delay.
Meanwhile in Oman, which has seen protests but no regime change, Sultan Qaboos has announced a major cabinet reshuffle.
A BBC correspondent says some faces from Egypt's old regime still remain in the interim government, but they are not in the main ministries.
In Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down last month, efforts to push out the old guard have also been continuing. On Monday a new cabinet was sworn in. Notable appointments are Mansour Issaoui as interior minister, Nabil Arabi as foreign minister and Mohamed Abdel Aziz El Guindi as justice minister.
Tunisia's interior ministry also abolished the State Security Administration, which includes the so-called "political police". Provisional authorities in Tunisia are struggling to convince protesters that they are making a clean break with the regime of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
In Tunisia, the first country to topple its leader in the current wave of unrest, there have been new changes to the interim government. Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi named at least four new ministers after the latest string of resignations, which came amid continuing protests.
A witness in Misrata tells Reuters that people are being treated on hospital floors because of a severe shortage of medical facilities.
Channel 4's Lindsey Hilsum
tweets: "Untrained rebels at Ras Lanuf checkpoint tell me: "Maybe I die, but as Shakespeare says the question is to be or not to be". #Libya #c4news"
BBC Arabic's Abdel Rahim al-Farsi in Tripoli says: "In the capital, the situation seems to be normal. Checkpoints have been removed, the shops are open, and there is no army presence on the streets."
Mr Zawi tells al-Jazeera that three rebels and 26 pro-Gaddafi troops were killed in fighting in and around Zawiya on Sunday. Eleven soldiers were also captured, three of them mercenaries from West Africa, he adds.
He adds: "The bombardment is still ongoing, yet the youths have returned to the square and regained control of it. The youths are still in control of the city of Zawiya."
Political activist Abdul Jabbar al-Zawi, who is in Zawiya, tells al-Jazeera: "Gaddafi brigades launched the most violent attack ever on the city today. The attack began with artillery shelling of the buildings overlooking Martyrs Square. The tanks entered the square and bombarded the surrounding area."
Al-Jazeera is also now reporting that there have been renewed clashes in the western Libyan city of Zawiya. Pro-Gaddafi security brigades are bombarding the city from the east and west, and plumes of smoke are rising from the main square, it says.
A decapitated corpse found in the eastern town of Ajdabiya could be that of the former director of Libyan intelligence, Abdallah al-Sanusi, the Europe-based online newspaper Libya al-Yawm is reporting. Mr Sanusi was recently sacked by Col Gaddafi. The body has been transferred to Benghazi for positive identification.
In an interview with French television, Col Gaddafi reiterated that al-Qaeda was behind the unrest in Libya. However, the US Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson has told the BBC that there is no evidence to support the claim. "We watch for these kinds of things. If they were to surface we would pursue them to determine the validity and we would seek to act if we saw them occurring," he said. "Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has largely worked in northern Mali, in the eastern parts of Mauritania, and in the southern parts of Algeria. They have not in the past extended themselves as far as Libya."
A British worker in central Tripoli has told the BBC about the situation in the capital: "Tripoli is tense but very much under regime control. There is a general view here that the balance is switching back to the regime. Tajoura had some skirmishes this morning. I do not know when I am going to leave."
Pro-Gaddafi forces have resumed their attacks on the key western city of Zawiya with tanks and artillery, an exiled Libyan opposition group has told the Reuters news agency. The Libyan Human Rights Solidarity said in a statement that there had been heavy fighting on Monday morning, and that the rebels had been able to capture government troops who "admitted that they had been instructed of the need to recapture the city before Wednesday". A journalist near the city said he had heard artillery fire and smoke rising above Zawiya.
Dr Ahmed Sewehli, a spokesman for Libyan Doctors Relief, has told the BBC that the Libyan authorities are not allowing doctors and medical supplies over the western border with Tunisia. "It is quite bewildering. [Col Gaddafi] is not allowing his own people to be treated for the injuries that of course he and his regime have been causing," he added.
Baroness Amos also told the BBC that getting help to rebel-held areas which had come under attack by government forces was essential: "You would normally have a situation where the Libyan Red Crescent would get access and where we could support them with a flow of supplies. To have the Benghazi Red Crescent and the Libyan Red Crescent ringing us up and saying: 'We can't get in, we urgently need you to call for access,' is unprecedented."
Up to a million foreign workers and others trapped in Libya are expected to need emergency aid because of fighting in the country, the UN has said. Emergency Relief Co-ordinator Valerie Amos said the UN needed $160m to pay for camp co-ordination and management, food security, nutrition, health care, water, sanitation and hygiene for the next three months. "This appeal is based on a planning scenario projecting up to 400,000 people leaving Libya - including the 200,000 who have left to date - and another 600,000 people inside Libya expected to need humanitarian aid," she said.
The British Conservative MP, John Baron, who is on the parliamentary foreign affairs select committee, tells the BBC: "I have to admit I don't know what we're up to. I think we've got to learn to stop meddling in other countries' affairs. I think Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us that. And we've got to be very careful not to be hypocritical, promoting democracy in one breath and yet selling crowd-control arms to these very regimes in the next."
The UK government has confirmed that Foreign Secretary William Hague personally authorised the failed special forces mission in rebel-held eastern Libya. Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said: "We have been very clear that we are seeking to establish contact with opposition figures and we will continue to do so... It is our intention to send in a further team in due course to better understand the position on the ground."
Japan is set to impose sanctions on Col Gaddafi, his family and associates in line with last week's UN Security Council resolution, the Kyodo news agency has reported. The sanctions would be approved by the cabinet on Tuesday, a government source said.
The pan-Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat has been told by rebel sources that the government is using pilots from Syria, Algeria, Ukraine, Serbia and Romania to fly air force warplanes in an attempt to make up for the acute shortage of Libyan pilots who are refusing to obey orders. The sources say rebel fighters brought down two warplanes over Ras Lanuf and that their pilots' identity cards and accents indicated they were from Syria. The al-Tabu Front for the Salvation of Libya also claimed that dozens of Syrian soldiers had been flown in with the knowledge of the Syrian authorities.
Shashank Joshi, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute,
writes on the BBC News website
: "Presently, this burgeoning civil war is finely balanced. Col Gaddafi retains a stream of oil income and the loyalty of elite brigades, and he will have been heartened by US defence secretary Robert Gates' strong caution lagainst military intervention. At the same time, Col Gaddafi's grip on Tripoli is fragile, he has failed to hold oil installations in the east, and sanctions will inevitably be ratcheted up as the stalemate is prolonged. The denouement of Libya's revolution still lies many weeks over the horizon."
Our correspondent adds: "It is not really that Col Gaddafi's troops have recaptured the town Ben Jawad. It was already in their hands, and the rebels tried to wrest control on Sunday night and failed. The government forces are better armed and operating on 'home turf', because Col Gaddafi's tribe dominates the area. The rebels also have to cope with very long supply lines, as there is an enormous distance between here and Benghazi. This is the first real check that the rebels have had and we will have to see how well they cope."
Opposition forces in Libya moving westwards from Benghazi have been held up by determined fighting from government troops around Bin Jawad. The BBC's John Simpson, who is in the nearby oil town of Ras Lanuf, says: "The situation has stabilised now. The rebels have sent in more heavy weapons and reinforcements, although they do not match the numbers that are leaving. It looks as though they are just going to hold the position at Ras Lanuf. There has been quite a lot of bombardment here over the past couple of hours, including near the crossroads where we just were. Several rockets also landed near the hotel where we stayed last night."
The BBC's Pascal Harter in Benghazi says: "Members of the rebel council say that only two things are not on the table - one that Col Gaddafi stays in control, and two that Libya becomes divided. They are absolutely non-negotiable for them."
The sources did not reveal how the rebel council had reacted, saying only: "There has been no official response to Col Gaddafi's request so far, either positive or negative." But they added that the general mood at the moment among council members was to refuse to negotiate.
Libyan sources have told the pan-Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat that Col Gaddafi has turned to the rebel Transitional National Council to secure his departure from the country in return for guaranteeing his and his family's safety. He sent a negotiator on his behalf to Benghazi and made handing over power before Libya's parliament, the General People's Congress, his condition, the sources said.
Salah Elwafi is a Libyan in Tripoli who says he supports Colonel Gaddafi. He has told the BBC that people are starting to feel more secure in the city: "It feels secure and safe here. Roads are being patrolled by the government army officers and their volunteers. There are check points on the streets, as normal. This city is definitely under the control of the regime but it's difficult to gage what's happening in other cities."
The Libyan Youth Movement
tweets: "Many Attempts to take Misrata and Zawia failed, an attempt to retake Ras Lanuf is now under way by the Pro-Gaddafi forces #Libya #Feb17"
Sky News producer Tom Rayner
tweets: "Banner outside Benghazi courthouse: 'Those who make peaceful protest impossible, make violent revolution inevitable' #LIBYA"
More now from the doctor in Misrata who spoke to the BBC World Service. He said the fighting on Sunday was very serious, and that he had never seen anything like it. "We had 22 dead and more than 90 severely injured. We've had kids as young as two and a half years die, people over 70 years old die," he added. "Yesterday, they were shooting everything - homes, mosques, drugs stores... They even used their ambulance to shoot people."
He adds: "The current UN Security Council resolution does not authorise the use of force. However, I cannot imagine the international community would stand idly by if Col Gaddafi continues to attack his own people."
Asked about the debate between the alliance's member states on whether to impose a no-fly zone, Mr Rasmussen says: "Nato stands united. We have asked our militaries to conduct prudent planning for all eventualities. However, Nato has no intention to intervene. I would assume that any operational role would in accordance with, and pursuant to a UN mandate."
Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen tells BBC World News: "It is absolutely outrageous what we are witnessing in Libya. These systematic attacks against the civilian population may, as stated by the UN Security Council, amount to crimes against humanity. The government of Libya has a responsibility to protect its own population."
The death toll from the fierce fighting in the western Libyan city of Misrata has risen to 21, a doctor tells the AFP news agency.
Former Czech President Vaclav Havel, who helped bring about the end of communist rule in his country, has said foreign military action should be used to oust Col Gaddafi if his forces continue to attack civilians. He told the Hospodarske Noviny newspaper that the world might have to stop the Libyan leader from committing "more and more crimes". "The entire world was wrong," he said, when it considered Col Gaddafi "an eccentric weirdo", because "it turned out that he was a mad criminal". Mr Havel said one option was "a targeted attack aimed at the places where Gaddafi is hiding".
Lara Setrakian of ABC News
tweets: "#Libya is a bloody stalemate - government say it's reclaiming rebel strongholds, rebel leaders say they're pushing #Gaddafi back"
But, our correspondent says, there is still a sense of fear that the wounded have not stopped coming in. "There are people lying in hospital beds with severe injuries. One man I spoke to had a bullet through his heart and lung, but he said he would do it all again," she adds.
The BBC's Pascal Harter in Benghazi says the rebel-controlled eastern city is braced to receive the wounded from the battles near Bin Jawad. "I have just been to a hospital in the city which has the biggest intensive care unit, and doctors there say those who are badly wounded on the frontline will not survive the drive. However, they say they have enough medical supplies, more in fact than during the time when the government was in control. They also say they have too many staff to know what to do with them, because so many doctors have been coming in from all over the world to provide support and expertise."
The BBC's John Simpson, in Ras Lanuf, says rebel forces have received a serious check at the town of Bin Jawad, about 60km (40 miles) to the west. "The rebels attacked Bin Jawad on Sunday, but a combination of air power, better weaponry and the fact that they were fighting on more favourable territory meant that Col Gaddafi's forces were able to beat them off," he adds. "The rebels fell back on the important oil town of Ras Lanuf, which they captured on Friday night. On Monday, a plane from Col Gaddafi's air force came over to bomb them. Whether deliberately or not, the pilot missed but the rebels have been disheartened by their failure, and many of them who drove up so enthusiastically on Sunday have been streaming back down the road."
A doctor in the western Libyan city of Misrata, which has seen some of the heaviest fighting, tells the BBC World Service that forces loyal to Col Gaddafi have destroyed pharmacies there. The hospital and mosques have come under attack and government forces have used ambulances to shoot at people, he says. The doctor adds that they are running low on medical supplies.
The Arab League supports the creation of a military no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians, the French foreign ministry has told the AFP news agency. On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe held talks in Paris with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.
Mr Gheriani also told Reuters that there were almost 17,000 rebel fighters "out there in Ajdabiya and beyond, but they are scattered".
A spokesman for the rebel National Libyan Council has warned that Col Gaddafi could seek to destroy Libya's oil industry if there is no foreign military intervention soon. "The West needs to move or this crazy guy will do something to the oilfields. He is like a wounded wolf. If the West does not intervene with tactical air strikes he could put the oilfields out of commission for a long time," Mustafa Gheriani told the Reuters news agency.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of North African migrants arriving on the Italian island of Lampedusa. Eleven boats carrying around 1,000 people reached Lampedusa overnight, and others have been sighted approaching the small island. Facilities there are being seriously over-stretched - its reception centre only has beds for 850 people, and the authorities have restarted airlifts to move the migrants to the Italian mainland. Most of them are said to come from Tunisia. The influx has been increasing since the overthrow of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January, and the beginning of the uprising in Libya last month.
The Reuters news agency is also now reporting that a government warplane has launched an air strike in the eastern oil port town of Ras Lanuf. The jet fired two rockets at a checkpoint on the eastern outskirts, rebel fighter Mokhtar Dobrug said. There were no casualties.
NBC's Richard Engel
tweets: "#libya.. Told qaddafi worried about attacking rebels in cities, doesn't want to kill many, upset tribes, wants to fight in desert... govt is waiting for rebels to stretch their supply lines to launch a decisive attack"
Dr Sewehili also said it was difficult to get supplies into the country. "We are trying to get medicines, infant milk and doctors into Libya but it's proving very, very difficult. We've been trying to get people through the borders, especially at the Tunisian end, but unfortunately that's been closed. We have had contacts with people who are able to use smuggling routes. That is costing a lot of money and is also very, very dangerous. The Libyan authorities, as in Gaddafi's men, are not allowing people in with supplies," he explained.
Dr Ahmed Sewehli is a Libyan psychiatrist who has given up his job in England to help the medical community back in Libya. He told the BBC World Service that Misrata's hospital was struggling to cope with the number of casualties. "Unfortunately, there are not enough ventilators in the hospital to cope with the severely injured, and there is a shortage of anaesthetic agents," he said.
A rebel spokesman in Misrata, Mohammed Benrasali, told the BBC that there had been an eight-hour battle. "Seven tanks entered the city supported by about 25 vehicle-mounted machine-guns. Three of the tanks made their way all the way to the town centre, where they were trapped in one of the squares and there was really heavy fighting. There was carnage and destruction."
The United Nations is calling for urgent humanitarian access to the western city of Misrata. On Sunday, it was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting since the start of the uprising. A doctor at the city's hospital said at least 21 people had been killed and more than 100 others wounded.
There has been a second air strike by a government fighter jet in the eastern rebel-held town of Ras Lanuf, an AFP reports says. It was met with a barrage of anti-aircraft gun fire.
Meanwhile, an EU foreign affairs representative has landed in Tripoli and met Libyan and EU diplomats to discuss the safety of Europeans still in Libya. Agostino Miozzo
told the EUobserver website
by telephone from the Italian embassy in Tripoli on Monday morning: "The situation is relatively calm, quiet. There was no shooting during the night. Traffic is almost calm and there are people around. The only sign of crisis is at the airport, where there are 2,000 or 3,000 Africans waiting to go back to their countries." Mr Miozzo said there another 200 EU citizens who still wanted to leave Libya, and another 1,100 who were staying put.
On Sunday, Libyan state television
broadcast a recording
of the British ambassador to Libya, Richard Northern, talking to the former Justice Minister, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, who is now a leader of the rebels in Benghazi. Mr Northern said: "We have been planning to send some officials to stay in Benghazi to liaise with you, with the National Council, but also to keep an eye on the humanitarian situation. Ahead of those officials who are coming we sent a small group just to find if there was a hotel, if everything was working and there was somewhere they could stay and work."
Former SAS soldier Robin Horsfall has told the BBC the operation was a success. "They were clearly having problems establishing communications with the leaders of the rebel administration, and they needed to take the risk of getting in there and saying: 'Look, we're here, we need to talk to you.' Nobody was quite sure who was going to respond, so they had to take a risk. They got in there and they did achieve the mission, they've managed to establish communication with the people in charge, establish who they need to talk to, and they've come home safely."
BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera says: "An arms embargo is in place on Libya and British officials emphasise that the purpose of any mission is to build political contacts with forces opposing Col Gaddafi and gain a clearer picture of the situation on the ground. The team despatched last Friday was apprehended by opposition groups in what was described as a 'misunderstanding'. Officials say that the decision to land by helicopter at night with a special forces escort was due to concerns over security but, they say, other options are possible in the future and there will be consultation with the opposition before another team is sent - although establishing who is actually in charge in Benghazi in a fluid and unpredictable environment - remains problematic."
On Sunday, an armed British team, thought to include members of the Special Air Service (SAS), left Libya by warship after being detained by opposition forces. Witnesses said most of the eight-man group landed by helicopter on Friday near the eastern city of Benghazi. They had weapons, ammunition, maps and passports of four different countries. The UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said there would be a further mission - "in due course" - to strengthen dialogue with opposition groups.
The Libyan Youth Movement
tweets: "[There] is an understanding Gaddafi will try to retake Ras Lanuf as his forces are seen heading towards the town."
Asked about the address, a spokesman for the rebel National Libyan Council, Ahmed Jabril, told the Reuters news agency: "Talhi is a close acquaintance of mine and he is widely respected in Libya as a man who stood up to Gaddafi. But we have made it clear all along that any negotiations must be on the basis that Gaddafi will step down. There can be no other compromise."
Jadallah Azous al-Talhi, a former Libyan prime minister who is originally from the country's east, has appeared on state television reading an address to elders in the rebel-controlled city of Benghazi calling for national dialogue to end the bloodshed.
Meanwhile in Algeria, thousands of communal guards - who assist the security forces in villages - have broken through police cordons in the capital, Algiers, and are marching towards the National Assembly building to press their demand for a pay rise, the AFP news agency reports.
The BBC's Jim Muir says: "The border today is looking like a normal crossing, unlike last week when there were thousands of people pouring across who were then unable to move on. Now the situation is much more under control. The border is now being cleaned up. There is a dribble coming through - about 1,800 per day, a 10th of what it was at its peak. Some 10km down the road, there are still around 15,000 to 20,000 people being cared for at a large transit camp, most of them Bangladeshis. International agencies are confident they can clear that backlog within about five days. However, the infrastructure will be kept in place, because there is a fear that some people are being prevented from leaving western Libya."
UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator Valerie Amos travelled to the Tunisia-Libya border on Sunday to look at what could be done to support those stranded in the border areas. "The efforts of responders to scale up assistance have so far averted a humanitarian crisis in those areas that are accessible," she said. "But I remain very concerned about what is actually happening in western Libya. We urgently need access."
At least 191,748 people had fled the violence in Libya as of Saturday, the UN says. They have gone mostly to Tunisia (104,275), Egypt (84,970) and Niger (2,500).
The United Nations has launched a
Regional Flash Appeal
for the Libyan crisis. The appeal requests $160m to meet the humanitarian needs of the migrants who leave Libya for Tunisia, Egypt and Niger; respond to the needs within opposition-controlled parts of Libya; access people in the government controlled areas; and prepare for a worst-case scenario of increased outflow of people from Libya and/or emergence of significant humanitarian needs within Libya, a statement says.
Col Gaddafi described Libya as a partner of the West in the fight against international terrorism and the containment of illegal migration to Europe. He also reminded western countries of their oil interests in Libya and said it was strange that relations with the United States and the European Union, which had been good, had now changed.
The Libyan leader also repeated his claim that al-Qaeda was responsible for the uprising against his rule. "We have small armed groups who are fighting us. We did not use force from the outset... Armed units of the Libyan army have had to fight small armed al-Qaeda bands," he said. He also insisted that "at most 150 to 200 people" had been killed. "People should come here and see how many people have been killed. They can come and check among the population, and among the police and the army," he explained.
has told France 24
that the African Union is sending a mission to Libya that will "investigate the facts to confirm to the world that what is published about Libya outside is a lie". "I said to them that there is nothing that calls for the situation to be exaggerated, as if there were a problem. Everything is normal," he added.
The Guardian's Martin Chulov
tweets: "Reflections on libya 18 days in. Regime toppled but dictator remains. Opposite in egypt where regime remains but dictator gone."
AFP is now reporting that 12 people have been killed and 50 wounded in clashes between government forces and rebels in Ben Jawad. A casualty list posted at the hospital in Adjabiya, to the east, said there were seven dead and 52 people hurt. And a doctor at the al-Jalaa hospital in Benghazi said another five bodies had arrived there. The hospital in Ras Lanuf, closest to the fighting, was deserted, although a casualty list there gave a death toll of seven and 59 wounded, AFP said.
Al-Jazeera has meanwhile revealed that for several days US Awacs - airborne early warning and control system - aircraft have been flying around Libya, making constant contact with Maltese air traffic control and requesting details of Libyan flight patterns, including journeys made in the past 48 hours by Col Gaddafi's private jet, which flew to Jordan and back to Libya just before the weekend.
The Independent's Robert Fisk reports
that the US government has asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons - including anti-tank rockets and mortars - to the rebels in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. The Saudis have so far failed to respond to Washington's highly classified request, although King Abdullah personally loathes Col Gaddafi, who tried to assassinate him just over a year ago, he says.
The BBC's Wyre Davies in Tripoli says: "Here in the west it is different. The Gaddafi regime's perspective is an increasingly confident one. They feel they have a degree of momentum at the minute. They are trying to regain western areas under rebel control. Misrata, a town just down the coast from the capital, has been under heavy bombardment for the last 24 hours. However, we understand that it is still under the control of rebel troops. It is the same in Zawiya, to the west of Tripoli, which has been under heavy attack by government forces for the past few days. This is a consolidated effort by Col Gaddafi's supporters to make progress. But if they fail, and the rebels continue to hold on, will there be a stalemate and will a long civil war develop?"
Our correspondent says the rebels have no real organisation. "It's volunteers for the most part, using equipment and uniforms which they have captured," he adds. "If there is a strategy, it is not clear to me. But this is such a low-level civil war that there does not really need to be a strategy - in theory they simply have to keep on going westwards until they reach Tripoli."
The BBC's John Simpson, who is now in Ras Lanuf, says: "The recapturing of Bin Jawad will be an important check on the rebels' progress, which had so far seen them taking town after town as they headed west. Whether that progress is going to be halted now they are approaching Col Gaddafi's stronghold of Sirte is uncertain."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Kusa that there must be an end to "indiscriminate" attacks against civilians, and warned him that anyone who violates international law will be brought to justice. Mr Ban said the Libyan authorities had to "uphold their responsibility to protect the country's citizens and to heed the Libyan people's legitimate aspirations".
At least seven people were killed and 50 wounded in clashes between pro- and anti-government forces in Bin Jawad, medical officials tell the AFP news agency.
The BBC has confirmed that Bin Jawad has fallen to pro-Gaddafi forces.
A reporter for the AFP news agency in Ras Lanuf reports that there has been an air strike by a Libyan government warplane. The rebels responded by firing anti-aircraft guns.
Our correspondent adds: "According to the rebels, the Gaddafi loyalists have taken over houses in Bin Jawad, and forced the inhabitants to stay there as human shields. The rebels had been planning to bring up some heavy weapons during the night and were hoping that this would frighten the pro-Gaddafi troops into retreating. There is no doubt that the rebels are having a much harder time of it now than they were last week."
The BBC's John Simpson, on the outskirts of Bin Jawad, says: "During the hours of darkness, the shooting and rocketing died down, but as the sun came up over the eastern Mediterranean, the explosions started again. The rebels are at a real disadvantage. Col Gaddafi's troops, who are now fighting in his tribal heartland, are better equipped and stronger than they were during the fighting further back to the east."
A witness has told the Reuters news agency that forces loyal to Col Gaddafi are advancing east of the recaptured town of Bin Jawad, heading towards rebel-held Ras Lanuf, about 60km (40 miles) away. "I went to Bin Jawad and about 20 km (13 miles) beforehand I saw Gaddafi forces, a large truck and army vehicles, and a fighter jet, they were coming slowly in this direction," Ahmed al-Araibi said.
Ben Majors in New York writes: "My heart is in Libya. Watching the citizens and their 'soldiers' getting slaughtered depresses me no end. When will the international community act to stop it?"
Meanwhile, the United Nations says the Libyan government has agreed to let it send in a team to assess the humanitarian situation. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the team would go initially to the capital, Tripoli. Mr Ban said civilians were bearing the brunt of the violence and the Libyan government had a duty to protect them. The city of Misrata has seen some of the heaviest fighting. The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, said aid workers should be permitted to go there immediately to treat the injured and dying.
Reports on the fighting in eastern Libya say residents have been fleeing the oil port town of Ras Lanuf - their cars laden with belongings - fearing attack by government forces. Opposition fighters pulled back to Ras Lanuf on Sunday from the next town to the west, Bin Jawad, after it was captured by pro-Gaddafi troops. However, a BBC correspondent outside Bin Jawad says it is unclear now which side has control of that town. He says that according to the rebels, government forces used some residents of Bin Jawad as human shields.
Welcome to the BBC's live coverage of events in Libya, where anti-government demonstrators are attempting to topple their ruler of the past 41 years, Col Muammar Gaddafi. Stay with us for the latest updates - reports from our correspondents on the ground, expert analysis, and your reaction from around the world. You can contact us via email, text or twitter. We'll publish what we can.