With the Gadhafi government virtually a thing of the past, the rebel forces are now mopping up in various cities, but are also looking at towns like Bani Walid, which never did surrender during the civil war, as potential targets.
Rebels have repeatedly demanded the town surrender to the rebel government, but so far they have not. Now they are being given an ultimatum: surrender within 24 hours or face an attack.
The rebels are currently camped out six miles outside of town, avoiding getting any closer to make it easier for NATO to bomb it. But while NATO has been functioning as a de facto air force for the rebels, will they really attack a town full of civilians at this point?
It isn’t clear but this would be far afield from NATO’s ostensible mandate of “protecting civilians,” the excuse they’ve used for prosecuting the entire air war. With the rebels moving from oppressed to the oppressors, NATO so far seems entirely comfortable continuing to back them.