Libyan interim government fighters have launched what they say is the "final assault" on Sirte, one of the few remaining strongholds of former leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Residents are pouring out of the the coastal town as National Transitional Government (NTC) fighters push into neighborhoods.
On Monday, NTC forces seized new territory in and around Sirte. The gains included the nearby small town of Qasr Abu Hadi, where Gadhafi was reportedly born in a nomad tent in 1942.
NTC leaders have vowed to step down after Sirte is secured and the country's liberation declared. Interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said Monday that NTC control of Sirte would ensure that all of the country's sea, land and air entry ports were secure.
He acknowledged that fighting will continue in a number of pockets deep in the southern desert, including Bani Walid.
Jibril and NTC head Mustafa Abdel Jalil already had pledged to take no further part in the country's future government, as required by the country's interim constitution.
The pledge was intended to reassure the public they will not suffer under another dictatorship.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.