Libya rebels beg for no-fly as bombings persist

AJDABIYA, Libya - Muammar Qaddafi's troops were back on the offensive in Libya Monday, trying to break the stalemate and retake territory lost to the opposition.

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Some of the heaviest fighting was in rebel-held towns near the capital city of Tripoli, CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark reports. The United Nations says more than one million Libyans need humanitarian aid.

President Obama warned Qaddafi and his supporters that they will be held accountable for the violence and that the U.S. and its allies are still considering military options. NATO planes Monday began around-the-clock surveillance of Libya.

Opposition forces in the east want NATO to go further,  and ground Qaddafi's air force after it bombed several key oil towns.

U.S., NATO in holding pattern on no-fly zone

In a firsthand look at why Libya's rebels are begging for a no-fly zone, CBS News was first on the scene after a bombing. People ignored the danger and raced to show the damage.

"He's hitting his own people with bombs," one man said through a translator. "Young children. He's killing them."

CBS News was en route to the front line when a government warplane dropped two bombs on a road leading there. The shrapnel from those bombs was still warm when CBS News arrived at the blast site.

Near the craters was the wreckage of a pickup truck. A family with three children was in it when Qaddafi's air force struck. Two of the children died.

The survivors were slashed by shrapnel. The circling warplanes made for a very jumpy day on the front line.

The rebels have had trouble on the ground as well, their advance slowed by better-armed government forces counterattacking to defend Qaddafi's home turf in the west.

These fighters are realizing that enthusiasm alone won't get them to the capital city of Tripoli.

For days, they advanced through town after town in eastern Libya by jumping in pickup trucks and racing to the fight with no planning whatsoever.

A loudspeaker truck Monday was asking for 10 volunteers to head into a firefight down the road. A few minutes later, the message was, "Has anyone lost their keys?"

Even the fighters admit they need discipline.

"They think it's a game, you know?" said Ahmed al Agoori. "They don't think about what they're doing ... They try and move on, just like that. That's why we need a leader. We need someone to tell us 'don't do that, do that.'"

Some men loading ammunition were gearing up for the toughest battle yet, and they're hoping that a lot more help is on the way.

At the front, CBS News spoke with lots of volunteers who said they were expecting more disciplined army units with heavier weapons to lead the next offensive as they make their push into Qaddafi's stronghold on the coastal road to Tripoli.

The front line was fairly static Monday, forcing CBS News to be evacuated along with a large group of civilians from a nearby town. The rebels insist that they will be ready to move as soon as those reinforcements arrive.

  • Mandy Clark

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