Moammar Gadhafi's forces fired rockets along the eastern front line and shelled the besieged city of Misrata Tuesday as France and Britain urged their NATO allies, including the United States, to intensify the campaign against the Libyan regime.
But hopes for a rebel military victory have faded and diplomatic efforts to find a solution were picking up momentum. On Wednesday, diplomats will gather in the tiny Gulf nation of Qatar for a meeting of the Libya contact group, which aims to coordinate an international response to the conflict.
On Monday, African leaders tried to broker a cease-fire but were immediately shot down when the opposition insisted that Gadhafi give up power immediately.
For his part, Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim insisted that any talk of Gadhafi stepping down, which has also been suggested by some European officials, was "imperialist" thinking and he lamented that the rebels had not followed suit in accepting the African proposal.
The Libyan rebels have proven to be far weaker and outnumbered by Gadhafi's forces and without NATO airstrikes, they could face a crushing military defeat. So any realistic rebel hopes of unseating Gadhafi now rest firmly on international political pressure combined with sustained NATO airstrikes.