TRIPOLI – Muammar Gaddafi’s forces attacked two west Libyan towns, killing dozens, while rebels were pinned down in the east and NATO tried to resolve a dispute over who should lead the Western air campaign.

With anti-Gaddafi rebels struggling to create a command structure that could capitalize on the air strikes against Libyan tanks and air defenses, Western countries had still to decide who would take over command once Washington pulled back in a few days.

In the latest fighting yesterday, Gaddafi’s tanks shelled the rebel-held western town of Misrata and casualties included four children killed when their car was hit, residents said.

Residents painted a grim picture of the situation in Misrata, under siege by Gaddafi loyalists for weeks, with tanks in the city center and doctors operating on people in hospital corridors.