UNITED NATIONS - In exercising its enforcement powers, the UN Security Council has voted unanimously to impose military and financial sanctions against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his inner circle, and to refer his regimes crackdown on protesters to a war crimes tribunal for an investigation of possible crimes against humanity. The council voted 15-0 to adopt a resolution that invokes Chapter VII of the UN Charter, allowing use of force to implement the sanctions. Chapter VII has in the past been used to deploy peacekeeping missions and conduct military operations in Iraq and Somalia. The UN sanctions committee will also designate individuals to be subject to a travel ban and have their assets in foreign countries frozen, the council said. The move came as President Obama for the first time called on Gaddafi to step down, deepening the Libyan leaders international isolation as he struggles to contain a revolt that threatens his 41-year rule. It also marked the first US vote in support of a Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court, which the United States has not joined. Speaking by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama said when a leaders only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now, according to a White House account of the conversation. The statement brings US policy in line with the position that European leaders adopted several days ago. In a statement Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the US would work with others to provide humanitarian assistance to Libyans in need. We will continue to look at the full range of options to hold the Libyan government accountable and support the Libyan people, she said. Muammar Gaddafi has lost the confidence of his people and he should go without further bloodshed and violence. The hardening US position came as Gaddafis renegade UN envoy endorsed a draft Security Council resolution Saturday that would impose a range of military and financial sanctions on the Libyan government and authorise the International Criminal Court to investigate. In a letter to the Security Council president, Libyan Ambassador Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgam wrote that his delegation supports the measures proposed in the draft resolution to hold to account those responsible for the armed attacks against the Libyan civilians, including [through] the International Criminal Court. A day earlier, Shalgam announced in a tearful appearance before the Security Council that he had broken ranks with his longtime friend, mentor and leader. That announcement followed a wave of defections by Gaddafis diplomatic corps, leaving the Libyan ruler essentially without a voice or influence outside the country. The drama unfolded as the 15-nation council considered a package of sanctions, including an arms embargo, a travel ban and an asset freeze on Gaddafi and his associates. After Shalgams appeal, Russia and India agreed to support the provision authorising an investigation. China, whose delegation requested time to seek instruction from Beijing, also backed the vote, citing broad African and Arab support for the initiative. The resolution imposed a travel ban on Gaddafi and 15 relatives and loyalists. Six of those individuals, including Gaddafi himself and his immediate family members, are also subject to a freeze of their assets. In addition, the resolution calls on Libya to respect press freedom and to permit the entry of relief workers, medical supplies and other humanitarian assistance. It also urges Libya to ensure the safety of all foreign nationals and facilitate the departure of those wishing to leave the country. The arms embargo is designed to prevent Gaddafi from resupplying loyalist forces, including thousands of African mercenaries. In remarks to the Security Council soon after the resolution was adopted, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the move, saying that while the measure cannot, by itself, end the violence and the repression, it is a clear expression of the will of a united community of nations. The actions taken by the regime in Libya are clear-cut violations of all norms governing international behaviour and serious transgressions of international human rights and humanitarian law, said Ban. He reiterated that peace and stability are at stake across the Arab world, adding that the worlds collective challenge is to provide real protection and halt the ongoing violence. Reuters adds - Armed rebels opposed to Muammar Gaddafi were in control of Zawiyah, close to the capital Tripoli, on Sunday as the Libyan leader again vowed to cling on to his 41-year-old rule. The people want the fall of the regime, a crowd of several hundred chanted, using the slogan that has echoed across the Arab world in protests against authoritarian rulers. Libya is the land of the free and honourable, a banner read. Another depicted Gaddafis head with the body of a dog. Bullet holes pock-marked charred buildings in Zawiyah, while burnt-out vehicles lay abandoned. The scene, only 50 km west of Tripoli, was another indication Gaddafis grip on power was weakening. Residents even in parts of Tripoli manned barricades proclaiming defiance after security forces melted away. Serbian television quoted Gaddafi as blaming foreigners and Qaeda for the unrest and condemning the UN Security Council for imposing sanctions and ordering a war crimes inquiry. Libya is safe, there are no conflicts, Tripoli is safe, he said. The Security Council could not see Tripoli is safe. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday the United States was reaching out to Libyan opposition groups seeking to oust longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafis son Saif al-Islam said there was a big gap between reality and media reports. The whole south is calm. The west is calm. The middle is calm. Even part of the east. As if to reinforce that point, authorities took a group of foreign journalists to Zawiyah, apparently to show they still held the town. But it was evident that rebels were in control. Residents told of fierce fighting for control against pro-Gaddafi paramilitaries armed with heavy weapons. A doctor at a makeshift clinic in the town mosque said 24 people had been killed in fighting with government loyalists over the previous three days, and a small park next to the main square had been turned into a burial ground. Local people said they had captured 11 pro-Gaddafi fighters, unhurt, and showed reporters two being held in a cell in the towns main mosque. Some 50,000 people, many of the migrant workers, have fled west to Tunisia since February 21. Locals in Tajoura, a poor neighbourhood of Tripoli, had erected barricades of rocks and palm trees across rubbish-strewn streets, and graffiti covered many walls. Bullet holes in the walls of the houses bore testimony to the violence. Libyan state television again showed a crowd chanting their loyalty to Gaddafi in Green Square on Saturday. But journalists there estimated their number at scarcely 200. There were queues outside banks in Tripoli for the 500 Libyan dinars ($400) the government had promised it would start distributing on Sunday to each family. But Libyan exile groups said later aircraft were firing on the citys radio station. In the second city of Benghazi, which broke free from Gaddafis rule a week ago, opponents of the 68-year-old leader said they had formed a National Libyan Council to be the face of the revolution, but it was unclear who they represented. They said they did not want foreign intervention and had not made contact with foreign governments. Talk of possible military action by foreign governments remained vague. It was unclear how long Gaddafi, with some thousands of loyalists including his tribesmen and military units commanded by his sons might hold out against rebel forces comprised of youthful gunmen and mutinous soldiers.