Rebel leaders decided overnight to attack the loyalist stronghold Bani Walid as early as today, accusing Gadhafi loyalists of using a loosely held ceasefire this week to bolster their ranks and positions in that city where some believe Moammar Gadhafi is hiding.
"Negotiations are over, and we are waiting for orders," said Mohammed al-Fassi, a rebel commander whose troops are preparing to invade Bani Walid.
"We wanted to do this without bloodshed, but they took advantage of our timeline to protect themselves," al-Fassi told the Associated Press.
Gadhafi loyalists from the south are believed to have moved into Bani Waled this week, after the rebels gave them a deadline to surrender that had been extended until next weekend. The grace period appears to have vanished in the desert sands.
Rebel brigades are now concentrating in the area of Bani Walid from all directions.
"We are now on the border of Bani Walid, between Tarhouna and Bani Walid," Moftah Mohammed told the BBC. "We are coordinating with the rebels from Misrata. God willing, we are hoping to enter the town today or tomorrow."
The Gadhafi loyalists still control Sirte, Bani Walid and Sabha. The rebel Transitional National Council is delaying its move from Benghazi to Tripoli at least until the fighting is resolved in those cities, preferably upon the capture or killing of Gadhafi.