Abdul Hafidh Ghoga, the vice chairman of the rebels’ shadow government, the Libyan National Council, said a no-flight zone would give his fighters a chance to reverse the losses they have suffered over the last few days.
In Libya, Colonel Qaddafi’s forces retook oil installations near Ras Lanuf, about 400 miles to the east of the capital. The rebels seized Ras Lanuf a week ago, but witnesses said Saturday that the main body of pro-Qaddafi forces had pushed opposition fighters well past the refinery checkpoints on the east side of the city.
Government forces also carried out an attack on Saturday on the town of Misurata, the last rebel holdout in the west.
The rebel defeat in Ras Lanuf moved the front to the east. By nightfall, the rebels had fallen back to Brega, about 60 miles from Ras Lanuf, and had begun a retreat to the next strategic town, Ajdabiya, about an hour away. The road was full of ambulances, cars and military trucks.
In Brega, the mood was grim. Several trucks filled with antiaircraft guns were parked near a checkpoint at the city’s edge as the fighters prepared to make another stand. Men in binoculars peered into the darkening horizon for signs of government warplanes.
Other fighters formed a line to carry ammunition out of a makeshift depot along the road, loading boxes onto a flatbed truck that was headed to Ajdabiya.