Barack Obama has warned Libya’s leaders that the US and its NATO allies are still considering military options in response to what he called “unacceptable” violence perpetrated by supporters of Muammar Gaddafi.
“I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Colonel Gaddafi. It is their choice to make how they operate moving forward. And they will be held accountable for whatever violence continues to take place,” the US President said during remarks in the Oval Office on Monday.
Libyan warplanes launched multiple airstrikes on Monday on opposition fighters in the second day of a harsh government crackdown to thwart rebels advancing on Gaddafi’s stronghold in Tripoli.
Obama said he has also authorised $US15 million ($A14.8 million) in humanitarian aid to help international and non-governmental organisations assist and evacuate people fleeing the violence in Libya.
More than 200,000 people have fled the country, most of them foreign workers, creating a humanitarian crisis across the border with Tunisia – another North African country in turmoil after an uprising in January that ousted its longtime leader.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have died since Libya’s uprising began, although tight restrictions on media make it nearly impossible to get an accurate tally.
The US and United Nations have imposed sanctions on Gaddafi’s regime, and US military forces have also moved closer to Libya’s shores to back up demands that Gaddafi step down.
Obama spoke alongside Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is in Washington for meetings.