AJDABIYA, Libya -- Something new has appeared at the Libyan front: a semblance of order among rebel forces. Rebels without training -- sometimes even without weapons -- have rushed in and out of fighting in a free-for-all for weeks, repeatedly getting trounced by Moammar Gadhafi's more heavily armed forces.
But on Friday, only former military officers and the lightly trained volunteers serving under them were allowed on the front lines. Some are recent arrivals, hoping to rally against forces loyal to the Libyan leader who have pushed rebels back about 100 miles this week.
The greater organization was a sign that military forces that split from the regime to join the rebellion were finally taking a greater role in the fight after weeks trying to organize. Fighters cheered Friday as one of their top commanders -- former Interior Minister Abdel-Fattah Younis -- drove by in a convoy toward the front.
It was too early to say whether the improvements will tip the fight in the rebels' favor. They have been struggling to exploit the opportunity opened by international airstrikes hammering Gadhafi's forces since March 19.
Meanwhile in Washington, the Pentagon will soon stop firing Tomahawk cruise missiles against Libya, in addition to pulling its attack planes out of the international air campaign, two U.S. defense officials said. The U.S. officials said the Pentagon won't fire the powerful long-range missiles unless the situation changes.
In Libya, in a sign the strikes may be eroding Gadhafi's resilience, his government is trying to hold talks with the United States, Britain and France in hopes of ending the air campaign, said Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi, a former Libyan prime minister who has served as a Gadhafi envoy during the crisis. "We are trying to find a mutual solution," he told Britain's Channel 4 News.
The opposition said Friday in Benghazi, its de facto capital, that it will agree to a cease-fire if Gadhafi pulls his military forces out of cities and allows peaceful protests against his regime.
The rebel condition is that "the Gadhafi brigades and forces withdraw from inside and outside Libyan cities to give freedom to the Libyan people to choose," said Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, head of the opposition's interim governing council.