Libyan rebels are retreating from the strategic town of Ajdabiya under heavy bombardment by Muammar Gaddafi's forces, according to reports, as the international community continues to debate a possible no-fly zone to protect an anti-government uprising.
The town on Libya's east coast is all that stands between the advance of Libyan government troops and the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and lies on a road junction from where Gaddafi's forces could attempt to encircle the city.
Libyan state television claimed on Tuesday pro-Gaddafi forces were now "in total control" of the town. However, rebel fighters told Al Jazeera that Ajdabiya is still under their control.
Meanwhile, Gaddafi's forces, who have halted and reversed last month's rebel advance along the east coast, also appear to be gaining control of the nearby oil town of Brega.