On March 2nd, Al Jazeera reported that rebels based in eastern Libya were preparing to march on Tripoli with over 5,000 volunteers, who have been trained to use weapons in recent days by defected and retired soldiers and officers. In an attempt to put more pressure on Gaddafi to step down the US increased their offshore presence. Concern is also developing over the issue of Libyans fleeing to Tunisia as lack of resources to handle the mass emigration threatens to cause a humanitarian crisis. Early in the morning four large explosions went off in close succession in central Tripoli, however, security forces and Gaddafi supporters prevented journalists and onlookers from approaching after the blasts, which they described as originating from an oil tanker truck. The day also saw significant conflict as forces loyal to Gaddafi seized the town of Marsa El Brega in Cyrenaica, killing 14, and were launched a counterattack against anti-Gaddafi forces in eastern Libya. According to rebels using Twitter, they had fought back against two jets bombing positions near Ajdabiya and a column of at least 100 vehicles transporting pro-Gaddafi troops, reportedly shooting down one war-plane. Despite pro-Gaddafi attacks the rebels managed to regain control of Brega. In a nearly three hour long speech, Gaddafi insisted no attacks had been launched against rebels, whom he again claimed were al Qaeda operatives. During this speech reports starting to appear of another airstrike against rebel positions near Brega, where Al Jazeera reported 250–300 pro-Gaddafi fighters were routed by revolutionary forces. At least 14 people were killed in what has been dubbed the 'Battle of Brega'. At a summit in Cairo, the Arab League rejected direct military intervention as an option in Libya, but suggested it could establish a no-fly zone over the country, possibly in conjunction with the African Union.
The next day a rebel website posted a "distress call" allegedly from "the people of Brega" warning that mercenaries had reinforced forces loyal to Gaddafi at Hrawah and calling for immediate reinforcements in case Gaddafi's fighters attacked Brega again. The Dutch government said three Dutch marines were captured by pro-Gaddafi forces after landing near Sirte as part of a rescue operation to evacuate Dutch workers trapped in the country, with Dutch and Libyan authorities now reportedly in negotiations over the marines' fate, with the Netherlands seeking the immediate release of the captured servicemen into Dutch custody. It has been reported that at least two of the workers the marines were attempting to evacuate have left the country. In the eastern Mediterranean, US warships passed through the Suez Canal on their way to waters off Libya. Forces loyal to Gaddafi again marched on rebel positions, hitting Brega and Ajdabiya again from the air while advancing overland, although the strength and aggressiveness of the loyalist ground forces is unclear.