WASHINGTON -- The on-scene commander of the international coalition for Libya is confirming that civilians are under attack by government forces in Misrata, the North Africa nation's third largest city.
U.S. Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear told Pentagon reporters Tuesday that the coalition is "considering all options" in light of the attacks, but he did not elaborate.
Misrata is one of the cities that President Barack Obama has demanded that forces of leader Moammar Gadhafi evacuate.
Elsewhere in the Mid-East on the Arabian peninsula, Yemen's embattled U.S.-backed president pledged to step down more than a year early but refused to immediately resign on Tuesday, infuriating tens of thousands of demonstrators demanding his ouster.
The opposition said it would not accept President Ali Abdullah Saleh's offer to resign by year's end in response to nationwide anti-government protests, which have swelled dramatically since security forces opened fatally shot more than 40 demonstrators on Friday.
"The president's statements are just another political maneuver," said chief opposition spokesman Mohammed al-Sabri. "What was acceptable yesterday is not acceptable for us today."
The standoff pushed Yemen closer to open confrontation between the two sides, fueling Western fears that Saleh's 32-year-old regime could be replaced by chaos, or a leadership less likely to cooperate with U.S. military operations against the local branch of al-Qaida.
Protesters massed by the tens of thousands Tuesday afternoon in the downtown Sanaa plaza they have dubbed "Taghyeer," or "Change" square. Crowds ululated, chanted and painted each other's faces in the red, white and black colors of the national flag. Conservative tribesmen bought their wives to the protest, and the women bought their children, all basking in a carnival atmosphere.
Demonstrators began demanding Saleh's ouster more than a month ago, inspired by the wave of people power sweeping through the Middle East. His troops and loyalists have killed more than 80 demonstrators throughout Yemeni cities, according to an Associated Press tally of eyewitness, opposition and official accounts.