A Libyan rebel stands near an anti-aircraft gun at a checkpoint outside the city of Ajdabiyah
A Libyan rebel stands near an anti-aircraft gun at a checkpoint outside the city of Ajdabiyah Reuters

Pro-government forces are battling rebels for control of the oil port of Brega, as Moammar Gaddafi intensifies his assault on opposition groups in the eastern parts of Libya.

Should Brega fall to Gaddafi, it would place his soldiers dangerously close to Benghazi, the unofficial capital of the rebel movement.

Tony Birtley, a reporter from Al Jazeera who is in Benghazi, said there is no immediate threat to Benghazi, and the rebels have a new commander, an experienced commander, who has defected from Gaddafi forces. This is good news for the rebel forces as he is reported to have some 8,000 men with him and heavy weapons too.”

Birtley added, militarily, it is difficult for Gaddafi to come all the way to Benghazi, street fighting will make Gaddafi lose men and their morale may go down.

Separately, rebels claim that they are consolidating their position in the town of Ajdabiya, another eastern city, in preparation for a possible assault by Gaddafi loyalists, according to the Associated Press.

Ahmed al-Zwei, a rebel spokesman, spoke of intermittent fighting between rebels and Gaddafi soldiers on an 80-kilometer road between Ajdabiya and Brega.

In Brega it is still advance and retreat, we are not in control and they are not either, rebel solder Hussein al-Wami told Reuters.

Ajdabiya, the last major settlement before Benghazi, was bombed by Libyan government jets on Monday, although no deaths were reported from the strike.

Thus far, rebel soldiers -- who cannot compete with Gaddafi’s superior firepower – have been moved back about 200 kilometers over the past week of intense battles.

As Gaddafi moves deeper into rebel areas, western nations still have made no progress in imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. France has been in the lead of moving against Gaddafi, but other G8 members seem reluctant.

Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, has called for targeted sanctions against Gaddafi's government, but does not favor any military action.

We are very skeptical about a military intervention and a no-fly zone is a military intervention, he told reporters.

G8 foreign ministers agreed that the UN Security Council should increase the pressure, including through economic measures, for Moammar Gaddafi to leave, said French minister Alain Juppe.

However, The UN Security Council failed to agree on a no-fly zone among its fifteen members, with Russia expressing the strongest reservations.

Fundamental questions need to be answered, not just what we need to do, but how it's going to be done, Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador, said.

Nawaf Salam, the Lebanese ambassador, said Lebanon wants quick action in Libya.

We think it is not only a legitimate request, it is a necessary request, he said.

Measures ought to be taken to stop the violence, to put an end to the ... situation in Libya, to protect the civilians there.

The Arab League has already supported a no fly zone over Libya.