AJDABIYA (AFP) - Libyan strongman Moamer Gaddafi's forces on Monday bombarded rebel positions on the doorstep of Ajdabiya, a key town which the revolution against his rule has vowed to defend at all costs. Gaddafi's forces have won a string of victories in recent days and if the gateway town of Ajdabiya falls it would leave open the roads to the rebel headquarters city of Benghazi and the key northeastern port of Tobruk. A thick sandstorm early Monday limited the activities of Gaddafi's warplanes, but rebels on the exposed western edge of the small town showed journalists two craters some four metres across and five metres apart near a road junction, attracting dozens of sightseers. Former air force colonel turned rebel field commander Jamal Mansur said Libyas Russian-built Sukhoi-24 attack aircraft had carried out strikes, and that bombardments had targeted military buildings in Ajdabiya. Mansur also claimed some fighters were still holding out in Brega. Gaddafi's forces are practising a scorched earth policy but our forces regained a foothold in Brega last night, he said. They are still there but are undergoing intense attacks by artillery and from the navy. As the sandstorm blew over the area, dozens of civilians were evacuating the town, heading northeast for Benghazi aboard light trucks loaded with suitcases, bags and mattresses, leaving shops shuttered behind them. At the town hospital Dr Wanis Obeidi said five people were wounded in Mondays attacks. One was undergoing surgery but the other four had been discharged. On the western edge of Ajdabiya, rebels professed themselves eager for a fight but showed themselves pitifully ill-armed. Mansur warned that Ajdabiya could become another Zawiyah. Gaddafi forces were trying to crush rebels holding out in the western town of Zuwarah, government and opposition sources said Monday. Meanwhile, major powers were holding talks on the crisis. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Paris for talks with G8 counterparts. Clinton was also to meet members of Libyas opposition national council in Paris on Monday or Tuesday, a US official said. Russia has appeared reluctant and the United States, Germany and Italy have taken a cautious line on intervention. Meanwhile Libyas state news agency said Gaddafi had invited Chinese, Russian and Indian firms to produce its oil instead of Western companies which fled the unrest.