President Obama warned the Libyan government that U.S. and NATO allies are still considering a military response to nation's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy rebels.
"I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Col. Gadhafi. It is their choice to make how they operate moving forward. And they will be held accountable for whatever violence continues to take place," Obama said during remarks from the Oval Office Monday.
Earlier during the day, rebel forces advanced toward Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's stronghold in the capital city of Tripoli as they were met by heavy resistance from ground forces and air attacks. The battle took place in strategic oil port of Ras Lanuf.
"The orders are to stay here and guard the refinery, because oil is what makes the world go round," rebel fighter Ali Suleiman said.
Suleiman expressed confidence in the opposition's ability to repel Gadhafi's elite ground battalion, but said they would be out-gunned if he uses his air power.
"We don't want a foreign military intervention, but we do want a no-fly zone," he said.
Rebel and government forces have been battling for control of several cities both west and east of the capital, sparking fears the nation is headed toward a civil war.
On Saturday, anti-Gadhafi forces accused Libyan troops of firing on civilian areas in the town of Bin Jawad.
"At least seven people were killed in the offensive launched this morning by two battalions on the city, and there are dozens of wounded," a doctor in the town of Zawiyah told AFP in a telephone interview.
"What happened this morning is horrible. The mercenaries opened fire on anyone who dared go outdoors, even on children," he said.
In Tripoli, pro-Gadhafi demonstrators appeared in the streets professing their loyalty to the dictator.
The U.S. has moved military forces closer to Libya's shore but is not pushing for a no-fly zone.
"Lots of people throw around phrases of `no-fly zone' and they talk about it as though it's just a game, a video game or something. Some people who throw that line out have no idea what they're talking about," White House Chief of Staff William Daley said.
Meanwhile, thousands are attempting to flee the country as the violence continues to escalate.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has criticized the Obama administration's response the crisis, saying it hasn't acted quickly enough to get American's out of the battle-torn country.
"I think that it's been troubling the way that the president has responded," the Tea Party favorite told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday. "For instance, in Libya during the unrest, we had at least 600 Americans who were there."
"The Chinese were in the process of removing 12,000 Chinese, while Americans were waiting for an American response to be removed from Libya," she noted.