Video: Left behind in Libya

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    >>> overseas now to libya where nato admitted today its air strikes are not enough to stop the daily assault on libya 's third largest city, misrata , where the rebels there are desperately trying to hold on. nbc's stephanie gosk is in benghazi tonight with more on this siege going on in misrata . stephanie , good evening.

    >> reporter: good evening, brian. well, nato says that the fighting over the last ten days in misrata has been intense. their most recent air strikes have destroyed dozens of tanks and armored vehicles , but commanders admit that gadhafi still has considerable strength on the ground. seven weeks under siege, and the fighting is only getting worse. government forces attempting to beat down not just the rebel fighters but the people of misrata themselves. there's no safe way in or out by road. the deep water port is the city's only lifeline. ships dock daily, bringing in food, medicine, and sometimes weapons. waiting to get out, human cargo . there are an estimated 5,000 migrant workers of many nationalities stuck since the fighting began, living in dirty and dangerous conditions.

    >> we are praying for god so that they can take us back to our country.

    >> reporter: when the opportunity comes to leave, there is a crush to get on board. no one wants to be left behind . this ferry boat chartered by a humanitarian group is evacuating migrant workers and the seriously injured. one man brings what is left of the rocket that shattered his friend's leg. a rebel fighter hurt in battle. unlike 9-year-old mohammed, who was struck in the face by shrapnel while playing outside.

    >> this is what happens when you randomly bomb a city with innocent people.

    >> reporter: on board the boat doctors do what they can in cramped, unsanitary conditions. until they arrive at the port in benghazi . the trip took them 24 hours . they were in rough seas. there was very little painkiller. it's hard to imagine that they are the lucky ones . with the evacuees now in relative safety the boat loads up again, ready to return despite the danger to the fiercest battleground in libya 's civil war . hoping to end the military stalemate, the british government is sending military advisers here to benghazi to help the rebels organize their army. they were careful to point out, brian, that they will not be arming them and they will not be participating in any military activities.

    >> nbc's stephanie gosk in benghazi . we'll watch that latest development in this story. stephanie , thanks.

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 4/19/2011 1:03:46 PM ET 2011-04-19T17:03:46

Western nations are inching closer to placing troops on Libyan soil despite threats from Moammar Gadhafi's regime and opposition from France.

The European Union said it was willing to deploy an armed force to escort humanitarian aid, an act Libya's rulers called tantamount to a military operation. Britain said Tuesday it will dispatch senior military officers to advise Libya's opposition forces.

The ground-troop issue arose after Libyan state-run television reported on Tuesday that NATO warplanes launched airstrikes on the capital Tripoli and the city of Sirte. Also Tuesday, a human rights researcher reported renewed attacks by government troops on rebel-held Misrata.

New Western tactics seem to have been spurred by the continued deadlock after two months of fighting between Gadhafi's army and rebel forces. There has also been growing international concern over the fate of besieged Misrata, where NATO has been unable to halt heavy shelling by Gadhafi's forces with airstrikes alone.

To break the battlefield stalemate, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the U.K. will send a team of up to 20 senior military advisers to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to help organize the country's haphazard opposition forces.

Hague insisted the advisers would not be involved in supplying weapons to the rebels or in assisting their attacks on Gadhafi's forces. He said the advisers would work with British diplomats already cooperating with the National Transitional Council, the political wing of the rebel movement, which has been officially recognized by Italy, France and Qatar.

Slideshow: Conflict in Libya (on this page)

Britain has already sent non-lethal support, such as 1,000 sets of body armor and 100 satellite phones.

The EU, meanwhile, said it could deploy an armed force to Libya within days to ensure the delivery of humanitarian supplies, said Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Mann said a "concept of operations" has been approved by the European Union's 27 countries, outlining various possible courses of action. But Mann said the details of the operation, including how many people and what equipment would be needed, would await the specifics of any U.N. request.

The EU has no standing army, and the personnel and equipment would have be donated by member countries.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said he is "totally hostile to the deployment of troops on the ground."

Juppe made his remarks at a lunch for diplomatic journalists, which was reported on the website of the daily Le Figaro. He was responding to a question over a proposal by the head of the foreign affairs commission in France's lower house to send 200-300 special forces "who wouldn't be ground combat troops" to help designate targets for NATO planes.

Juppe said the rebel forces "can play this role without it being necessary to deploy troops on the ground."

The leader of the rebels' transitional government, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, is scheduled to meet with President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on Wednesday.

2 cities bombed
Earlier, Libya's state-run Al-Jamahiriya channel reported Tripoli and Sirte "were subject to bombardment by the crusader colonial aggression during the early hours of Tuesday."

It added that NATO also bombarded the al-Habra area in the town of al-Aziziyah.

An Amnesty International researcher, Donatella Rovera, also reported a fresh attack by pro-Gadhafi forces Tuesday on the besieged rebel city of Misrata.

"They were shelling very close by, in the area slightly to the northwest of the center. I just left the hospital; there were casualties coming in," Rovera told Reuters by phone.

NATO said in a statement published on its website Tuesday that it had carried out "deliberate, multiple strikes against command and control facilities" of Gadhafi's regime during the night.

It said this included "communications infrastructure used to coordinate attacks against civilians."

The 32nd Brigade headquarters, six miles south of Tripoli, was also attacked with NATO saying the base had been used "to lead and coordinate military actions against the Libyan civilian population."

Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard, the commander of Operation Unified Protector, said the campaign to "degrade" Gadhafi's forces would continue.

Image: Selima Abdullah  and granddaughter Heba at a hospital in Misrata
Chris Hondros  /  Getty Images
Selima Abdullah comforts her youngest granddaughter Heba at a hospital in Misrata on Tuesday. Heba's abdomen was wounded by shrapnel, after a shell landed near her home.

Meanwhile, another NATO military official admitted it was proving difficult to neutralize the firepower used by Gadhafi's forces to attack Misrata.

Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, who is chairman of the alliance's military committee, told reporters in Rome that even though NATO operations have done "quite significant damage" to the Libya regime's heavy weaponry, what Gadhafi has left was "still considerable."

Asked if more NATO air power was needed, Di Paola would only say that any "significantly additional" allied contribution would be welcome.

The United Nations food agency said Tuesday that it had started moving food supplies through a new humanitarian corridor into western Libya for civilians in cities, including Tripoli.

Food for 50,000
A convoy of eight trucks loaded with enough wheat flour and high-energy biscuits to feed nearly 50,000 people for 30 days crossed into Libya from Tunisia Monday, the World Food Program (WFP) said in a statement.

"We managed to open a new humanitarian corridor into western Libya," WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella told a news briefing.

"WFP is coordinating with all parties to ensure that affected needy civilian population do not go hungry, irrespective of their area's adherence to any of the warring factions," the statement said.

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The food will be distributed mainly to women and children in Tripoli, Zintan, Yefrin, Nalut, Mezda, Al Reiba and Al Zawia via the Libyan Red Crescent, it said.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Tuesday that a meeting of Western and Middle Eastern states would be held in Rome next month to seek ways of enabling oil from Libyan rebel areas to be sold on world markets.

U.N. sanctions aimed at Gadhafi's regime have prevented rebels from selling oil to raise funds themselves.

The United States, Britain, France and Qatar are among countries urging the sale of oil from eastern Libya, where the rebels have established their stronghold.

So far, the rebels have only been able to export small quantities of oil with the help of Qatar, which along with France and Italy, was among the first countries to recognize the rebel Provisional Transitional National Council.

Abdul-Jalil thanked Italy for its support and reiterated that a future rebel government would uphold all existing treaties and commercial agreements with foreign partners and he said early supporters would be regarded particularly favorably.

"All future economic agreements will be especially directed towards those who have supported us today and who have been on our side in this delicate phase," he said.

"There will be strong cooperation and friendship with Italy, Qatar, France in the first instance," he said. "After them, will come all our other friends, the United States, Great Britain which have supported us, but each according to how much they have supported us today."

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photos: Libya's uprising against Gadhafi

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  1. People gathering in Benghazi, Libya in mid-February of 2011 as protest against the rule of Moammar Gadhafi grew, in part triggered by the arrest of human rights activist Fethi Tarbel. EDITOR'S NOTE: The content, date and location of this image could not be independently verified. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Buildings at the entrance to a security forces compound burn in Benghazi, Feb. 21, 2011. Libyan protesters celebrated in the streets of Benghazi, claiming control of the country's second largest city after bloody fighting, and anti-government unrest spread to the capital with clashes in Tripoli's main square for the first time. (Alaguri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi speaks on state television. Feb. 22, and signalled his defiance over a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule. (Libya TV via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Libyan U.N. ambassador Shalgham is embraced by Dabbashi, Libya's deputy U.N. Ambassador after denouncing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for the first time during a Security Council meeting at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York on Feb. 25. Shalgam, a longtime friend and member of Gadhafi's inner circle, had previously refused to denounce Gadhafi. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Thousands of Libyans gather for the Muslim Friday prayers outside the courthouse in the eastern city of Benghazi on Feb. 25, 2011. Perhaps 8,000 people gathered for the midday prayers with a local imam, who delivered his sermon alongside the coffins of three men killed in the violent uprising that routed Gadhafi loyalists from Benghazi. (Gianluigi Guercia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Rebels hold a young man at gunpoint, who they accuse of being a loyalist to Gadhafi, between the towns of Brega and Ras Lanuf, March 3, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Pro-Gadhafi soldiers and supporters gather in Green Square in Tripoli, March 6, 2011. Thousands of Moammar Gadhafi's supporters poured into the streets of Tripoli, waving flags and firing their guns in the air in the Libyan leader's main stronghold, claiming overnight military successes. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Rebel fighters jump away from shrapnel during heavy shelling by forces loyal to Gadhafi near Bin Jawad, March 6. Rebels in east Libya regrouped and advanced on Bin Jawad after Gadhafi forces ambushed rebel fighters and ejected them from the town earlier in the day. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Libyan rebel fighters take cover as a bomb dropped by an airforce fighter jet explodes near a checkpoint on the outskirts of the oil town of Ras Lanuf on March 7, 2011. (Marco Longari / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Libyan rebels fire rockets at government troops on the frontline. March 9, 2011 near Ras Lanuf. The rebels pushed back government troops westward towards Ben Jawat. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Libyan government soldiers aboard tanks at the west gate of the town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Libya's army pounded an opposition-held city in the country's west and battled fighters trying to block its advance on a rebel bastion in the east amid flagging diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed. EDITOR'S NOTE: Picture taken on a government guided tour. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Libyan people in Benghazi celebrate after the United Nations Security Council authorized a no-fly zone over Libya, March 18. Thousands of Libyans erupted in cheers as the news flashed on a giant screen in besieged Benghazi late March 17. After weeks of discussion, the UN Security Council banned flights in Libya's airspace and authorized "all necessary means" to implement the ban, triggering intervention by individual countries and organizations like NATO. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A picture combo shows a Libyan jet bomber crashing after being apparently shot down in Benghazi on March 19, 2011 as the Libyan rebel stronghold came under attack. Air strikes and sustained shelling of the city's south sent thick smoke into the sky. (Patrick Baz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Residents of Benghazi flee the city along the road toward Tobruk, in an attempt to escape fighting in their city, March 19, 2011. Gaddafi's troops pushed into the outskirts of Benghazi, a city of 670,000 people, in an apparent attempt to pre-empt Western military intervention expected after a meeting of Western and Arab leaders in Paris. (Reuters TV) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Gadhafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A rebel fighter carries his weapon outside the northeastern Libyan town of Ajdabiyah, March 21, 2011. A wave of air strikes hit Gaddafi's troops around Ajdabiyah, a strategic town in the barren, scrub of eastern Libya that rebels aim to retake and where their fighters said they need more help. (Finbarr O'reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A Libyan rebel prays next to his gun on the frontline of the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, March 21, 2011. The international military intervention in Libya is likely to last "a while," a top French official said, echoing Moammar Gadhafi's warning of a long war ahead as rebels, energized by the strikes on their opponents. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Libyan rebels retreat as mortars from Gadhafi's forces are fired on them near the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, March 22, 2011. Coalition forces bombarded Libya for a third straight night, targeting the air defenses and forces of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, stopping his advances and handing some momentum back to the rebels, who were on the verge of defeat. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A Libyan man is comforted by hospital staff as he reacts after identifying his killed brother in the morgue of the Jalaa hospital in Benghazi, March 22, 2011. His brother was killed earlier in fighting around the city of Ajdabiya. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Volunteer fighters training at a rebel army training camp in Benghazi, March 29, 2011. Pro-government forces intensified their attacks on Libyan rebels, driving them back over ground they had taken in recent days. The rebels had reached Nawfaliya, but pulled back to Bin Jawad. (Manu Brabo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Smoke billows as seven explosions were reported in the tightly-guarded residence of leader Moammar Gadhafi and military targets in the suburb of Tajura. Two explosions also rocked the Libyan capital Tripoli on March 29, 2011, as NATO-led coalition aircraft had been seen in the skies over the capital. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A Libyan rebel urges people to leave, as shelling from Gadhafi's forces started landing on the frontline outside of Bin Jawaad, 93 miles east of Sirte, March 29, 2011. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. General Abdel-Fattah Younis, former interior minister in the Gadhafi regime who defected in the early days of the uprising, is greeted by Libyan rebels at the front line near Brega, April 1, 2011. (Altaf Qadri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Libyan men show the V-sign for victory as they stand on the deck of a Turkish ship arriving from Misrata to the port of Benghazi who were evacuated along with others the injured in the fighting between rebel and Gadhafi forces, April 03, 2011. The Turkish vessel took hundreds of people wounded in the Libyan uprising for treatment in Turkey from the two cities of Misrata and Benghazi. (Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A wounded prisoner from Gadhafi's forces is transported in the back of a pickup truck by rebels, on the way to a hospital for treatment, half way between Brega and Ajdabiya, April 9, 2011. Rebels say they took two prisoners after a clash with soldiers near Brega's university outside the government-controlled oil facilities, marking a noticeable advance by rebels. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. In this image taken from TV, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi makes a pubic appearance in Tripoli, April 14 2011. Gadhafi defiantly waved at his supporters while being driven around Tripoli while standing up through the sunroof of a car. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. A rebel fighter celebrates as his comrades fire a rocket barrage toward the positions of government troops April 14, 2011, west of Ajdabiyah. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Gadhafi supporters hold copies of his portrait as they gather at the Bab Al Azizia compound in Tripoli, April 15, 2011. Rebels held much of eastern Libya by mid-April, while Gadhafi controlled the west, with the front line shifting back and forth in the middle. (Pier Paolo Cito / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Doctors work on a baby who suffered cuts from shrapnel that blasted through the window of his home during fighting in the besieged city of Misrata, April 18, 2011. Thousands of civilians are trapped in Misrata as fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels there. The Libyan government has come under international criticism for using heavy weapons and artillery in its assault on Misrata. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. MISRATA, LIBYA - APRIL 20: Libyan rebel fighters discuss how to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from the next room during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011 in Misrata, Libya. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi April 20, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building that fought back instead of surrendering, firing on the rebels in the building and seriously wounding two of them during the standoff. Fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels ensconced there. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images) (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Libyan rebel fighters carry out a comrade wounded during an effort to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from a building during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Gaddafi, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building where they fought back instead of surrendering. Two rebels were seriously wounded during the standoff. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Rebels tread carefully as they prepare to invade a house where soldiers from the pro-government forces had their base in the Zwabi area of Misrata on April 24, 2011. (Andre Liohn / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Libyans inspect damage and an unexploded missile at the Gadhafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli, May 1, 2011. Gadhafi escaped a NATO missile strike in Tripoli that killed one of his sons and three young grandchildren. EDITOR'S NOTE: Photo taken on a government guided tour. (Darko Bandic / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Moammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, center, leaves the funeral of his brother Saif Al-Arab Gadhafi, who was killed during air strikes by coalition forces, at the El Hani cemetery in Tripoli, May 2, 2011. Crowds chanting Gadhafi's name gathered in Tripoli for the funeral of his son and three grandchildren. (Louafi Larbi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Fleeing migrants and Libyans are seen on board an International Organization of Migration ship leaving the port of Misrata on May 4, 2011, as Gadhafi forces continued to pound the city. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Libyan men watch as the main fuel depot in Libya's third largest city, Misrata, burns following a bombing by Gadhafi's forces on May 7, 2011. Libyan regime forces shelled fuel depots in Misrata and dropped mines into its harbor using helicopters bearing the Red Cross emblem, rebels said as they braced for a ground assault. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Libyan rebels celebrate near the airport of Misrata on May 11, 2011 after capturing the city's strategic airport following a fierce battle with Moammar Gadhafi's troops -- their first significant advance in weeks. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Women react after a protest against Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Benghazi, Libya, on May 16, 2011. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, announced that he would seek arrest warrants against the leader of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and the country's intelligence chief on charges of crimes against humanity. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Tripoli street in Misrata is seen from the terrace of a building used by Gadhafi’s snipers before the rebels took control of the area on May 22, 2011. The weeks-long siege of the city ended in mid-May and Tripoli Street was the site of the fiercest fighting in the battle and a turnin point in the war. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. A rebel fighter gives water to a soldier loyal to Gadhafi after he was wounded and then captured near the front line, west of Misrata on May 23, 2011. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. An uncle, left, prays over the body of one and a half year-old Mohsen Ali al-Sheikh during a washing ritual during the funeral at his family's house in Misrata, May 27, 2011. The child was killed by a gunshot during clashes between rebels and pro-Gadhafi forces earlier in the day. (Wissam Saleh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. The body of a drowned refugee floats near a capsized ship which was transporting an estimated 850 refugees from Libya, approximately 22 miles north of the Tunisian islands of Kerkennah, June 4, 2011. At least 578 survived the sinking. (Lindsay Mackenzie / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. A photograph taken from a video by a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows Mutassem Gadhafi, son of Moammar Gadhafi, drinking water and smoking a cigarette following his capture and shortly before his death, in Sirte, Oct. 20, 2011. (- / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. A photograph taken from mobile phone video of a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows the capture of Moammar Gadhafi in Sirte on Oct. 20, 2011. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. This image provided by the Libyan Youth Group on Nov. 19, 2011, shows Seif al-Islam Gadhafi after he was captured near the Niger border with Libya. Moammar Gadhafi's son, the only wanted member of the ousted ruling family to remain at large, was captured as he traveled with aides in a convoy in Libya's southern desert. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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