The head of Libya's National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, says the deadline has passed for a negotiated surrender of three cities held by pro-Gadhafi forces - Bani Walid, Sirte and Sabha.
Anti-Gadhafi fighters outside Sirte, Gadhafi’s hometown and Libya's second largest city, said they are awaiting orders to start the attack.
Rebels say they that they are poised to attack Sirte when given the command - as well as Bani Walid, which is about 200 kilometers to the south of of the city. Rebel fighters say they could take Bani Walid in a few hours and Sirte in a couple of days.
Still, authorities are said to be trying to negotiate a surrender to avoid civilian casualties as well as any more destruction.