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He added that President Obama “has been very clear and remains very clear that this will not involve boots on the ground from the United States’ perspective.”

Alliance officials warned for days that they were increasing the scope and intensity of their air campaign to oust Col. Gadhafi after more than 40 years in power. NATO is backing the rebel insurgency, which has seized swaths of eastern Libya and pockets in the regime’s stronghold in the west since the conflict began in February, inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world.

British and French attack helicopters struck for the first time inside Libya over the weekend, and the alliance on Tuesday flew 66 “strike sorties,” its most intense barrage yet in the conflict.

Some 6,850 people, nearly all of them Libyans, have streamed across the border from Libya to Tunisia since Monday to flee the NATO raids as well as fighting between the rebels and government forces, according to the Tunisian Defense Ministry.

Royal Air Force Wing Cmdr. Mike Bracken at NATO’s Libya operations headquarters in Naples told the Associated Press there has been “increased tempo over recent days over Tripoli” as the alliance seeks to further weaken Col. Gadhafi’s military.

But he stressed that “Gadhafi as an individual has not been a target and won’t be a target.”

In Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital, Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez became the latest European official to visit and bolster the opposition forces.

Mr. Fogh Rasmussen has said he will use the two-day meeting of alliance defense ministers, which started Wednesday at NATO’s Brussels headquarters, to push for broader participation by allies. He wants more countries from the 28-nation alliance to share the costs and risks involved in the campaign.

A defiant Col. Gadhafi vowed Tuesday to fight to the death.

“We will not surrender: We only have one choice — to the end! Death, victory, it does not matter. We are not surrendering!” Col. Gadhafi said in an audio broadcast on state television.

Col. Gadhafi was last seen in a brief appearance on state television in late May. He has mostly been in hiding since NATO strikes in April targeted one of his homes. Libyan officials said one of his sons, Saif al-Arab, and three of his grandchildren were killed in that strike.

Mike Corder contributed from Brussels. Associated Press writers Hadeel Al-Shalchi in Benghazi, Libya, and Ben Hubbard in Cairo contributed reporting.