Libyan rebels have rejected an offer by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to negotiate and have said they have captured the eastern town of Bin Jawwad, forcing regime loyalists to flee after days of fighting.
The opposition fighters have threatened to advance west on the coastal road toward Gaddafi's home town of Sirte if tribal leaders there do not agree to surrender peacefully.
The fighting in the east comes as the rebels consolidated their hold on the capital, Tripoli, some 350 miles to the west of Bin Jawwad.
Mohammed al-Rajali, a spokesman for the rebels on the eastern frontlines, said they captured Bin Jawwad and deployed forces in the city after days of fighting.
He said Gaddafi's forces fled west and were likely to join regime forces in Sirte, the headquarters of Gaddafi's tribe and his last major bastion of support. The opposition has threatened to assault the city, which has been heavily targeted by Nato airstrikes, if tribal leaders there refuse a peaceful surrender.
With Gaddafi on the run, his spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told news agency AP that Gaddafi is still in Libya and is offering to have his son, al-Saadi, lead talks with the rebels on forming a transitional government.
However, Mahmoud Shammam, the information minister in the rebels' transitional council, rejected the offer.
"I would like to state very clearly, we don't recognise them. We are looking at them as criminals. We are going to arrest them very soon," he said at a news conference. "Talking about negotiations is a daydream for what remains of the dictatorship."
Meanwhile, more signs emerged of arbitrary killings of detainees and civilians by Libyan forces as the rebels swept into Tripoli earlier this week, including some 50 charred corpses found in a makeshift lock-up near a military base that had been run by the Khamis Brigade, an elite unit commanded by Gaddafi's son, Khamis.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said it has gathered evidence indicating that Gaddafi loyalists killed at least 17 detainees and arbitrarily executed dozens of civilians as rebels moved into Tripoli.