Rebel fighters take cover as a bomb dropped by a fighter jet explodes near a checkpoint on the outskirts of the oil town of Ras Lanuf on Monday. Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi & Dubai: The Gulf Cooperation Council on Monday called on the UN Security Council to protect civilians in Libya as pro-government forces fought pitched battles with revolutionaries in several towns in the North African country.

On Tuesday, a rebel spokesman says that a representative of Muammar Gaddafi has negotiated the Libyan leader's exit. Read full story

"We call on the international community, especially the UN Security Council, to face their responsibilities in helping the dear people of Libya," UAE Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said at the opening session of a foreign ministers' meeting of the GCC in Abu Dhabi.

Shaikh Abdullah said the Libyan people are going through crucial changes that require the GCC to join efforts to help them.

Addressing the meeting, Abdul Rahman Al Attiyah, secretary-general, said the killing of innocent people is a crime against humanity.

"Massacres committed by the regime against their own citizens are crimes against humanity that require condemnation, especially the use of mercenaries and heavy artillery," he said.

The GCC ministers were united in their condemnation of the use of weapons against civilians and called on the United Nations and the Arab League to safeguard the Libyan people.

The US and Nato on Monday warned Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to end attacks on civilians as growing violence on the 20th day of the revolution raised fears of a refugee exodus.

US President Barack Obama said Gaddafi will be "held accountable" for the violence. "I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Colonel Gaddafi. It is their choice as to how to operate moving forward. They will be held accountable for whatever violence will continue to take place there," he said.

Nato also warned that Gaddafi may already have committed crimes against humanity by attacking civilians and that the world might not stand idly by if such strikes do not end.

"These widespread and systematic attacks against civilians may amount to crimes against humanity," Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

Heavy fighting broke out in Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad on Monday as Gaddafi forces tried to recapture cities.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said more than a million people in Libya needed humanitarian aid.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed former Jordanian foreign minister Abdullah Al Khatib as his special envoy to Tripoli.

With additional inputs from agencies