One said government forces were raining rockets or tank shells on the city in what appeared to be preparation for a full-scale advance. Shells fell near a city hospital and hit a series of residential buildings as Gaddafi's tanks moved further along Libya's main Mediterranean coastal road than they have been since the rebels seized most of the country's east. An opposition fighter with a Kalashnikov rifle said he had fled the frontline outside Ras Lanouf.
NATO defence ministers met in Brussels today to discuss the escalating crisis. Britain had been pushing for a no-fly zone over Libya but after hours of talks, members concluded that the action would not be taken without a unanimous UN resolution.
Battle: A rebel vehicle is hit by a shell fired by soldiers loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, during a battle along the road between Ras Lanuf and Bin Jiwad today.
All out assault: Gaddafi's tanks head towards Ras Lanuf as the rebels flee before them
Chaotic: The fighters could not resist the full onslaught of Gaddafi's troops who have fought back after initial defeat