The Libyan stalemate appeared to intensify on Thursday as Muammar Gaddfi's forces made further gains in rebel-held cities while the regime faced more international opposition to its plans to cling on to power.

In recent days Gaddafi has managed to stall the progress made by rebels, but he is increasingly getting cornered in the international scene, creating the impression the Libyan crisis will take longer to resolve than initially thought.

Reports said on Thursday France has decided to recognizes the National Transitional Council, the spearhead of the Libyan revolution. Germany has already decided to freeze the assets of the regime. The wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that more and more European governments are turning their face against the Gaddafi regime and its officials.

The government forces gained control of the main square in Zawiya, which is 30 miles west the capital, while they pushed back the rebel advance in the east of the country. Gaddafi has always had the support of the tribal forces in the west of the country, which remain loyal to him.

Al Jazeera reported that Gaddafi’s forces also unleashed heavy attack on the town of Ras Lanuf, a rebel stronghold which has seen intense battles between the government and rebel forces. The Doha-based channel said there were reports this morning there were air attacks on the town.