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Mr. Gheriani, the rebel spokesman, said by telephone from Benghazi that the opposition was hoping for a positive U.N. Security Council vote, but “if not, we’ll rely on ourselves and do what we can.”

Mr. Gheriani told the Associated Press that Benghazi was “armed to the teeth” and the opposition is ready to defend it.

More checkpoints were popping up at intersections and on main roads, manned by men in uniform armed with AK-47 assault rifles and backed by anti-aircraft guns mounted on pickup trucks.

A Benghazi resident who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals said the city’s young men were volunteering to undergo basic military training. Those already trained were seeking more preparation to be battle ready.

The Red Cross said it was leaving Benghazi because of deteriorating security and moving to the city of Tobruk, further east.

The United States wants the Security Council to approve planes, troops or ships to stop attacks by Col. Gadhafi on the rebels, according to a diplomat familiar with closed-door negotiations Wednesday.

The Obama administration said it would not act without Security Council authorization, did not want to put U.S. ground troops into Libya, and insists on broad international participation, especially by Arab states, the diplomat said.

Maggie Michael reported from Cairo. Anita Snow and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed.