Libyan government soldiers say they have been ordered to retreat from Misurata, where they have laid siege to the city for nearly two months.
A wounded soldier captured by rebels told Reuters the order to retreat had come on April 22 and that his unit was in the process of withdrawing today when rebel forces attacked it.
The reported order to withdraw comes as Libya says a NATO air strike struck near the compound of leader Muammar Qaddafi in central Tripoli overnight.
Government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said three people were killed in the strike.
NATO had no comment.
On a visit to the rebel-held city of Benghazi, U.S. Senator John McCain said Washington should recognize the rebels and deploy ground-attack aircraft against Qaddafi's forces.
U.S. French, and British leaders say they will not stop their air campaign, now in its second month, until Qaddafi is removed from power.