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NATO says its aircraft destroyed eight warships belonging to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's forces in overnight attacks.

The alliance said the ships were sunk in coordinated attacks on the ports of Tripoli, Al Khums, and Sirte.

It marked the first time in the two-month international campaign that NATO struck at ships from the air.

Libyan TV also reported NATO bombs struck Tripoli, Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, and Zlitan, east of the capital.

In his speech on the Middle East, U.S. President Barack Obama said "time is working against Qaddafi" and that he would inevitably leave power.

Obama's comments echoed NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen who said military and political pressure were weakening Qaddafi and would eventually topple him.

Earlier, the Libyan government offered to withdraw their fighters from cities if rebels do the same, as part of a peace deal.

A Libyan official said as part of the deal, NATO would also have to halt its strikes of Libyan targets.

Fighting between rebels and government forces began in February.

The opposition, which controls key eastern cities such as Benghazi, said at least 12,000 people have been killed since then.

NATO's air strikes began at the end of March after the UN Security Council passed a resolution to protect civilians in the conflict.

compiled from agency reports