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In Misurata, another city that has borne the brunt of assaults, residents were bracing for another attack from troops stationed on the outskirts of the city.

The National Transitional Council was established in the rebel-held eastern city of Benghazi on Feb. 27. It is led by Mustafa Mohammed Abdul Jalil, a former justice minister in the Gadhafi regime.

The council said its goal is to facilitate the creation of “a free, just and democratic Libyan state.”

Meanwhile, Jadallah Azzuz at-Talhi, a former Libyan prime minister, tried to engage the opposition in talks earlier this week, council sources told The Times.

“The council made its position clear that Gadhafi should get out within 72 hours,” said Mr. Benrasali. He denied there was any rift in the council regarding its position on dialogue with the regime while Col. Gadhafi remains in power.

“There is no conflict in the council. The position is one: No talks with the dictator or the regime,” Mr. Benrasali said.

In Washington, President Obamas top advisers weighed possible steps to halt the violence. A no-fly zone over Libya is one of the options on the table.

In an interview late Tuesday with Turkish television TRT Turk, Col. Gadhafi said a no-fly zone would prove the West’s real intention is to seize Libyas oil.

“Such a situation would be useful,” Col. Gadhafi said. “The Libyan people would understand their real aims, to take Libya under their control, to take their freedoms and to take their oil and all Libyan people will take up arms and fight.”

Another option would be to arm opposition forces in Libya. However, the U.N.’s sanctions committee first would have to grant a waiver, since Security Council Resolution 1970, which imposed sanctions on Libya, expressly forbids all member states from “direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer” of arms to Libya.

“If the U.S. decides explicitly or covertly to arm its rebels, it looks to be in violation of this resolution,” said Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations.

In interviews with The Times, rebels said they were willing to buy the arms if they could find a seller. The rebels control much of Libya’s vast oil resources and say they have enough money to purchase the weapons.

Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut independent, said in a statement that the U.N. resolution targets the “Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,” the self-proclaimed name of Col. Gadhafi’s regime.

“We believe this language should be construed narrowly in order to hold open the possibility of providing military aid to the opposition, which presumably does not consider itself part of the ‘Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,’” they said.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters Wednesday the alliance is not looking to intervene in Libya, “but we have asked our military to conduct the necessary planning for all eventualities,” he said.

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