According to reports by both the Associated Press and Reuters, The U.S. is pushing for a U.N. resolution against Libya that could authorize a variety of military actions, including the use of planes and ground troops.
"Gadhafi's rapid advance on the rebels appears to have spurred the United States to leave behind weeks of doubts about a no-fly zone in Libya, and start advocating for broader U.N. authorization for international air, sea and land forces," the Associated Press reports. "The Obama administration and other supporters of action against Gadhafi were pushing for a Thursday vote on a draft resolution. Russia and China have expressed doubts about the U.N. and other outside powers getting involved."
"We are discussing very seriously and leading efforts in the [U.N. Security] Council around a range of actions that we believe could be effective in protecting civilians," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told Reuters in New York. "The U.S. view is that we need to be prepared to contemplate steps that include but perhaps go beyond a no-fly zone."
Sec. of State Hillary Clinton said she hoped the Security Council would vote on action "no later than Thursday."
Libyan rebels shot down at least two bomber planes that attacked the airport in their main stronghold on Thursday, according to residents who witnessed the rare success in the struggle against Moammar Gadhafi's superior air power.
The rebels used three of their own seized planes and some helicopters to attack government troops fighting to advance on the city of Benghazi, said Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman in the rebel base.
The rebels were unable, however, to keep Gadhafi forces from surrounding Ajdabiya, the last major city between Gadhafi's forces and Benghazi 100 miles to the north, rebels and residents said. The opposition said it was hoping for help from the U.N. Security Council before government troops move in.
A senior hospital official told The Associated Press that 30 people had been killed and at least 80 wounded in fighting in and around Ajdabiya since Tuesday night. Many more of the injured couldn't reach the hospital, according to the official there, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of official retaliation.
Libya's armed forces told Benghazi residents in a scrolling message on state television that, "We are on the edges of the city and we are coming to help you and to cleanse your city of the armed gangs."