* Clinton says no-fly zone must have global backing
* Government forces attack rebels in east and west
* Battle for besieged town Zawiyah
(Adds more Clinton comment, details)
By Maria Golovnina and Alexander Dziadosz
TRIPOLI/RAS LANUF, Libya, March 8 Libyan tanks
and warplanes intensified their offensive against rebels on
Tuesday, as the United States stressed that any no-fly zone to
hobble Muammar Gaddafi's forces had to have global backing.
Rising casualties and threats of hunger and a refugee crisis
have increased pressure on foreign governments to act, but many
are fearful of moving from sanctions alone to military action.
"We want to see the international community support it (a
no-fly zone)," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. "I think
it's very important that this not be a U.S.-led effort."
She told Sky News the United Nations should make the
decision on Libya, not the United States.
"We've called for Colonel Gaddafi to leave," she added.
"When a leader turns against his own people, that is the end."
U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David
Cameron agreed the "common objective" was an end to violence and
the departure of Gaddafi, the White House said.
In a phone call the two leaders "agreed to press forward
with planning, including at NATO, on the full spectrum of
possible responses, including surveillance, humanitarian
assistance, enforcement of the arms embargo, and a no-fly zone".
Britain and France are seeking a U.N. resolution to
authorise such a zone to ground Gaddafi's aircraft and prevent
him moving troops by air. Russia and China, who have veto power
in the U.N. Security Council, are cool towards the idea, which
would be likely to require bombing of Libyan air defences.
Hafiz Ghoga, spokesman for the rebel National Libyan
Council, told a news conference in the rebel base of Benghazi:
"We will complete our victory when we are afforded a no-fly
zone. If there was also action to stop him (Gaddafi) from
recruiting mercenaries, his end would come within hours."
In besieged Zawiyah, the closest rebel-held city to Tripoli,
trapped residents cowered from the onslaught on Tuesday.
"Fighting is still going on now. Gaddafi's forces are using
tanks. There are also sporadic air strikes ... they could not
reach the centre of the town which is still in the control of
the revolutionaries," a resident called Ibrahim said by phone.
"Many buildings have been destroyed including mosques. About
40 to 50 tanks are taking part in the bombardment."
Libyan television showed two of its reporters meeting
residents on Tuesday in what it said was "liberated Zawiya".
More on Middle East unrest: [nTOPMEAST] [nLDE71O2CH]
Western leaders call for Gaddafi to go [ID:nLDE71Q0L4]
Views on no-fly zone [ID:nN07104768]
Western forces in region link.reuters.com/jen38r
Latest graphic: r.reuters.com/nym77r
Interactive factbox link.reuters.com/puk87r
Rebels still controlled the central square of the town, 50
km (30 miles) west of Tripoli, on Tuesday and were using loud
hailers to urge residents to defend their positions, said a
Ghanaian worker who fled on Tuesday.
Sky television footage of fighting in Zawiyah over the
weekend showed crowds fleeing gunfire and a blood-spattered
hospital crammed with the wounded, some making victory signs
from stretchers. It showed bodies of dead soldiers, others it
said had switched sides, and captured tanks.
A government spokesman insisted troops were mostly in
control on Tuesday. "Maybe 30-40 people, hiding in the streets
and in the cemetery. They are desperate," he said in Tripoli.
A Libyan man who lives abroad said he spoke by phone on
Tuesday to a friend in Zawiyah who described desperate scenes.
"Many buildings are completely destroyed, including
hospitals, electricity lines and generators," he said.
"People cannot run away, it's cordoned off. They cannot
flee. All those who can fight are fighting, including teenagers.
Children and women are being hidden."
Foreign reporters have been prevented from entering Zawiyah
and other cities near the capital without an official escort.
In the east, much of which is under rebel control, warplanes
bombed rebel positions around the oil port of Ras Lanuf.
Revolutionary euphoria seemed to have dimmed. "People are
dying out there. Gaddafi's forces have rockets and tanks," Abdel
Salem Mohamed, 21, told Reuters near Ras Lanuf. "You see this?
This is no good," he said of his light machinegun.
Air strikes hit rebels behind the no-man's land between Ras
Lanuf and Bin Jawad, 550 km (340 miles) east of Tripoli. The
towns are about 60 km (40 miles) apart on the strategic coast
road along the Mediterranean.
One strike smashed a house in a residential area of Ras
Lanuf, gouging a big hole in the ground floor.
Mustafa Askat, an oil worker, said a bomb had wrecked a
water pipeline and this would affect water supplies.
"We have a hospital inside, we have sick people and they
need water urgently," he said.
A convoy from the U.N. food agency was scheduled to reach
the rebel-held port of Benghazi on Tuesday to deliver the first
food aid in Libya since the revolt erupted three weeks ago.
The rebel army -- a rag-tag outfit largely made up of young
volunteers and military defectors -- made swift gains in the
first week of the uprising which saw them take control of the
east and challenge the government near Tripoli.
But their momentum appears to have stalled. Some government
troops who had been besieging the rebel-held city of Misrata
left on Tuesday, driving east towards Sirte with pro-Gaddafi
forces coming from Tripoli, a resident said by phone.
Sirte, birthplace and stronghold of Gaddafi, lies on the
road to the emerging front that divides the country along
ancient regional lines, with oil facilities in the middle.
REBEL LEADERS LOBBY EU
Gaddafi calls rebels drug-addled youths and al Qaeda-backed
terrorists, and said he will die in Libya rather than surrender.
He visited a Tripoli hotel where foreign journalists are
staying late on Tuesday and gave short interviews to French and
Turkish television crews.
Representatives of the Libyan opposition met EU foreign
policy chief Catherine Ashton in Strasbourg and planned to speak
at the European Parliament on Wednesday.
Mahmoud Jebril, head of the crisis committee of the National
Libyan Council, said the EU should recognise the council as the
sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people.
"Empowering the people to continue their armed struggle
against Gaddafi can be done by different means," he said. "A
no-fly zone is one of them, supplying the peoples with arms."
EU states agreed to add the $70 billion Libyan Investment
Authority to a sanctions list on Tuesday. The embargo already
covers 26 Libyans including Gaddafi and his family.
A Libyan official said Finance Minister Abdulhafid Zlitni
had temporarily taken over as head of the central bank because
its governor Farhat Omar Bin Guidara was abroad. Bin Guidara
said in Dubai he disputed the legality of the decision.
The Libyan uprising is the bloodiest of a tide of protests
against autocratic rulers in North Africa and Middle East which
has already seen the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt overthrown.
The phenomenon has left the West struggling to formulate a
new direction for a region that sits on vast reserves of oil.
Brent crude futures for April delivery LCOc1 fell to about
$113 a barrel on Tuesday, after rising sharply on Monday.
(Additional reporting by Michael Georgy in Tripoli, Alexander
Dziadosz in Ajdabiya, Mohammed Abbas in Ras Lanuf, Hamid Ould
Ahmed in Algiers and Stefano Ambrogi in London; Writing by
Andrew Roche: Editing by Matthew Jones)