Gaddafi Regime on Brink of Collapse

As Al Jazeera, fighting erupted in Tripoli between supporters of Gaddafi dissidents. Many of the streets downtown – had celebrated hours earlier – were abandoned as pockets of pro-Gaddafi resistance and the presence of snipers and artillery fire made the area dangerous. According to Democracy Now

        After a lightning fast advance by opposition fighters who poured into Tripoli with surprising ease, much of the city appears to be under rebel control, although heavy fighting is underway in many areas. Al Jazeera reports that clashes are continuing in the capital, with the rebels facing off with tanks near Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s compound. Three of Gaddafi’s sons have reportedly been taken into rebel custody, and the presidential guard has surrendered. We go to Tripoli for an update from Robin Waudo, an International Red Cross spokesperson, who is part of a small team able to come to their office amid fighting and distribute medical aid for as many as 5,000 people who have reportedly been wounded.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, who entered the city with rebel fighters who advanced overnight, said “There are some Gaddafi forces still putting up a fight. Rebels still have one last push to make towards Bab al-Azizyah,” Khodr added, saying that it was unclear when this advance would take place”. (Al Jazeera)

As Guardian reports on Monday, Tripoli’s Green Square was a tranquil place until a rebel flag hung above the old Ottoman palace. When some curious locals emerged to take a look around. What they saw was a mess: the windows of the Saleem coffee shop had been blown in; a mangled truck lay next to a municipal pleasure park with palm trees and a pond. Zeina Khodr spoke to Al Jazeera:

       We are in Green Square, the city center of Tripoli. And as you can see behind me, celebrations are taking place. There is a party in the Libyan capital tonight, and the people of Libya are now in charge of their capital. In fact, they’ve already decided that this square will no longer be known as the Green Square, a name that was given by Muammar Gaddafi. It is now called Martyrs’ Square, the original name. There’s a feeling of euphoria here. People are shouting, “We are free! Muammar Gaddafi has gone!” They’re even shooting at his poster. A lot of celebratory gunfire. This city is now in the hands of the opposition. There are still some pockets where Gaddafi forces are, and people here are worried about sleeper cells. But they are confident the capital now belongs to them.

Tariq Hussain, 32, said (on Guardian) Gaddafi’s fired at the square for four hours on Sunday until midnight. After that people had flooded into the area – quickly renamed Martyrs’ Square – to celebrate the arrival of rebels from the Libyan capital’s western suburbs

       Hussain admitted to ambivalence about the rebels’ victory. “I’m afraid of them, to be honest,” he said. Others, however, were jubilant. “Forty-two years too much. It’s game over, Gaddafi,” Abdul Mohammad said, as a group of teenagers stomped on a green Gaddafi baseball hat.

“There’s no person here supporting Gaddafi,” Nasar al-Fahdi, a translator, explained. “It was just about fear. When someone says you have to support him, and he has a whole army behind him, what can you say?” But a waiter also admitted he had mixed feelings. Surveying the destruction, he said: “There’s not going to be much money around here.”

Certainly, most Tripoli residents welcomed the arrival of the rebels, who swept in riding a noisy cavalcade of pick-ups. But some did not.

Meanwhile, there is no information where Gaddafi is but two of his sons (Muhammad and Saif el Islam) have been captured. During the last few days, the Libyan dictator has delivered a series of angry messages, vowing not to surrender.

Guardian reports – Thursday 25 August 2011: “Libya conflict: Evidence emerges of executions by both sides”

A Libyan rebel walks past dead bodies in Tripoli. Evidence has emerged of executions on both sides of the conflict. Photograph: Francois Mori/AP

Dozens of bodies have been found in Tripoli with signs of executions carried out by both sides in the civil war.

Reuters news agency reported discovering 30 bullet-riddled bodies of fighters loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, of which two had been bound with plastic handcuffs, and one was on an ambulance stretcher with an intravenous drip still in his arms. They were in the remains of a pro-Gaddafi encampment strewn with caps and pictures of the ousted leader.

Elsewhere in the city, a medical aid worker at a Tripoli hospital said she had seen 17 bodies, believed to be civilians killed by government forces, which had been found when rebel fighters stormed the Gaddafi stronghold of Bab al-Aziziya.

“Yesterday a truck arrived at the hospital with 17 dead bodies,” Kirsty Campbell of the International Medical Corps told Reuters at Mitiga hospital. “These guys were rounded up 10 days ago. They were found in Bab al-Aziziya when the guys went in. These guys were shot in an execution there,” she said. The wounds were not battlefield injuries, she said. She added there had been reports of more bodies.

Meanwhile, the battle for control of Tripoli continued, with rebels attempting to corner Gaddafi loyalists. Much of the fighting today was focused on a cluster of tall apartment blocks next to Bab al-Aziziya, where some rebels claimed the ousted leader and one or more of his sons were holed up. So far there is no confirmation of their presence there.

However, Gaddafi’s spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, called the Associated Press to claim that the former leader was in Libya, that his morale was high, and that he was “indeed leading the battle for our freedom and independence”. A recorded message by Gaddafi was also broadcast on al-Arabiya television, in which he urged his supporters to continue the battle.

“Don’t leave Tripoli for the rats. Fight them, fight them, and kill them,” he said. “It is the time for martyrdom or victory. Nato can’t remain in the air all the time.”

William Hague however, said Nato planes would remain in action as long as the fighting continued. “There is no way back for the Gaddafi regime and clearly many of its key members are on the run,” the foreign secretary said. “But there remain forces active loyal to the Gaddafi regime, concentrated particularly in the south of Tripoli and around the city of Sirte. “As long as that remains the case and they remain a threat to the civilian population, the Nato operations will continue. So this is not over yet. The regime is finished – but fighting, as everyone can see from their television screens, is not over yet.”

Rebels began to explore a maze of tunnels beneath Bab al-Aziziya, which served as the regime’s inner sanctum. Journalists were showed stockpiles of water and banks of telephones in underground rooms and long concrete corridors wide enough for Gaddafi’s golf buggy, his favourite form of transport.

Further east, rebel columns closed in on Sirte, Gaddafi’s birthplace, from where loyalist fighters were continuing to fire Scud missiles and artillery.

The head of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, said that his forces were attempting to negotiate the surrender of loyalists in Sirte and other pro-Gaddafi redoubts in the southern town of Sabha and near the Tunisian border.

Jalil also told journalists that the NTC had come across huge stockpiles of food, medicine and fuel that he said the regime had been hoarding. “There will be no more problems with regard to food supplies, medicine supplies and fuel,” Jalil said, claiming that there was enough food in the stockpile in Tripoli to feed a city twice its size (of two million) and enough medicine for the entire country for a year.

“Muammar Gaddafi intentionally prevented Libyans from getting to these supplies, making them live in hunger,” he said. Jalil did not provide details of where the supplies were found. But he added that a large fuel stockpile had been found at the Zawiya oil refinery west of Tripoli. (The Guardian) |

Below: Al Jazeera’s correspondent James Bays visited a hospital in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, where he saw the bodies of 15 men – believed to be civilians killed in a mass execution.

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Αναρτήθηκε στις: 22/08/2011