Muammar Gaddafi's forces seized a strategic town in eastern Libya on Tuesday, opening the way to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi while world powers failed to agree to push for a no-fly zone.
The small town of Ajdabiyah was all that stood between the relentless eastward advance of Libyan government troops and the second city of Benghazi and lies on a road junction from where Gaddafi's forces could attempt to encircle the rebel stronghold.
"The town of Ajdabiyah has been cleansed of mercenaries and terrorists linked to the al Qaeda organisation," state television said, referring to the increasingly embattled rebels fighting to end Gaddafi's 41 years of absolute power.
Meanwhile, foreign ministers from the Group of Eight countries meeting in Paris could not agree to press the UN Security Council to back a no-fly zone to protect Libyan cities from aerial bombing.
Instead, the G8 said Libyans have a right to democracy and warned Gaddafi he faced "dire consequences" if he ignored his people's rights. The G8 urged the Security Council to increase pressure on Gaddafi, including further economic measures.