Meanwhile, two U.S. warships were passing through the Suez Canal on their way to waters off Libya on Wednesday as Western nations exerted diplomatic and military pressure on Muammar Gaddafi to step down.
The United States said Libya could sink into civil war unless the Libyan leader ends his four-decade rule amid fears that the uprising, the bloodiest yet against long-serving rulers in the Middle East, could cause a humanitarian crisis.
Gaddafi is defiant and his son, Saif al-Islam, has warned the West against launching military action. He said the veteran ruler would not relinquish power or be driven into exile.
Across Libya, tribal leaders, officials, military officers and army units have defected to the rebel cause and say they are becoming more organized.
Tripoli is a stronghold for Gaddafi in this oil-producing north African state.
"We are going to keep the pressure on Gaddafi until he steps down and allows the people of Libya to express themselves freely and determine their own future," Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told ABC's "Good Morning America."
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