WAR IN LIBYA:Tripoli overrun by rebels + Related News
Laaska News August 27,2011
Tripoli overrun by rebels
Rebel forces in Libya have overrun the last holdout of Gaddafi loyalists in the capital Tripoli. They say, however, that they have failed to track down and catch the dictator’s son Saif al-Islam, who was believed to be hiding in the Abu Salim neighbourhood.
The insurgents are now attacking Gaddafi positions near the capital’s international airport.
SA okays Gaddafi wealth to rebels
South Africa has lifted objections to a Security Council resolution to release $1.5 billion in frozen Gaddafi assets to the Libyan rebels.
In a statement from its Foreign Ministry Friday, it says it is doing this in order to relieve suffering in the wake of Libya’s civil war and NATO’s air campaign.
Importantly, the decision came after the United States agreed to erase all mention of the Benghazi-based Transitional National Council from the proposed resolution.
South Africa and the African Union continue to withhold recognition of the TNC. They have been arguing that the Libyan conflict must be resolved through negotiations.
Rebels warned not to lynch Gaddafi
The United Nations human rights office has cautioned the Libyan rebels not to execute Muammar Gaddafi in case he falls into their hands, but comply with international law and hand him over to the International Criminal Court.
The rebels, meanwhile, are rapidly advancing towards the dictator’s home city of Sirte. They have placed $1.7 million on Gaddafi’s head.
British, French help Libyan rebels – Guardian
British and French special forces are helping Libyan rebels prepare an attack on Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, located 600 kilometers east of Tripoli and still controlled by pro-Gaddafi forces, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported on Friday.
Right now, the two countries’ troops are on the ground in eastern Libya, elaborating “concrete military operations”, according to The Guardian.
BBC correspondents, for their part, say that entering Sirte remains a key priority for NATO, which is poised and ready to destroy Gaddafi regime’s last stronghold.
According to intelligence information obtained by France earlier on Friday, Colonel Gaddafi is currently based in Sirte.
Fierce fighting under way in Sirte
Fierce fighting has erupted in Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown Sirte, 600 kilometres away from the capital city Tripoli.
In Sirte, the Colonel’s supporters are not about to surrender, but the rebels are by far numerically stronger, and, besides, they are reinforced by NATO aircraft, so they are capturing one house after another.
The whereabouts of Colonel Gaddafi remain unknown. Meanwhile, the Transitional National Council, obviously in a rush to shore up its positions, moved from Benghazi to Tripoli last night, although fighting and looting continues to be reported from some districts of the capital city.
This prompted the United Nations to send a special ship to Tripoli that picked up stranded foreigners who were unable to leave the fighting-swept country.
Qadhafi supporters continue resistance
Supporters of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi are continuing their resistance in the capital Tripoli, even though opposition forces have moved their base into the city.
Groups loyal to Qadhafi launched attacks against the National Transitional Council on Friday, the day after the Council announced that it had moved its headquarters from the northeastern city of Benghazi.
Pro-Qadhafi forces deployed snipers around the city and infiltrated opposition forces in an attempt to launch surprise attacks.
Resistance is also continuing in the besieged leader’s birthplace of Sirte in central Libya and the southern military city of Sebha.
Opposition groups captured a compound in southern Tripoli after a fierce gun battle on Thursday night.
Qadhafi and his family members were believed to have been in the compound, but their whereabouts remain unknown.
The national council’s number 2 official, Mahmoud Jibril, told reporters on Friday that the top priorities are to collect the weapons used by both sides and bring the situation in Tripoli under control.
Friday, August 26, 2011 19:07 +0900 (JST)
Food, fuel in dire shortage in Tripoli amid continued fighting
TRIPOLI, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) — Four days after Libyan rebels entered Tripoli, their battle with forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi continued Friday, creating a crippling dearth of basic supplies.
Although major fighting had moved to the airport and the suburbs, most shops inside the capital remained closed for fear of surprise gunfire and stray bullets from both sides of the conflict. So it was quite difficult for local residents to replenish their larders.
“Although we made full preparations for fierce clashes in the city, we are running out of food due to prolonged fighting,” said a shopkeeper who gave his name as Saoud and who reopened his store as fighting moved out of the downtown area.
“It is dangerous to sell things to people now, because you don’t know when and where the bullets will come. But people need food and water, so I have to take the risks,” he said.
After more than five months of fighting, the country’s oil facilities have been seriously damaged, almost all gas stations in the western region destroyed, and food supplies from other countries disturbed.
Food and cooking oil were sold out merely several hours after Saoud opened his shop. “As food from Italy and Malta cannot arrive in Tripoli at the moment, I have to close the shop after all things are sold out,” he said.
There is another way to get food and fuel. Some people drove more than 400 km across the western desert to buy daily necessities in Tunisia. But the lack of gasoline and the soaring prices prevented many from traveling that far.
Gasoline prices are now about 10 times as high as before the unrest erupted in February, a restaurant owner who preferred not to be named told Xinhua.
“Now 20 liters of gasoline is sold at 120 Libyan dinars (about 132 U.S. dollars). And all diesel is sent to the front line for military trucks of the rebels. Even though you have money, you cannot buy any,” she said.
Libyan rebels stormed the Abu Salim district in southern Tripoli on Thursday night, one of the strongholds of pro-Gaddafi forces in the capital.
Rebel fighters swept through houses and streets to drive out government troops. Sounds of gunfire and explosions rocked the city overnight.
On Friday morning, local residents, carrying their children, rushed out of the district to areas fully controlled by the rebels, while dozens of trucks carrying rebel forces streamed in.
Witnesses said NATO warplanes struck several targets at night to help rebels eliminate snipers in roadside buildings.
Libyan rebels take control of main border crossing with Tunisia
TUNIS, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) — Libyan rebels have taken control of the main Tunisian-Libyan border post Ras El Jedir, Tunisian Radio Mosaique FM reported on Friday evening.
According to the radio’s correspondent there, the Libyan rebels ‘ flag was hoisted on the Libyan side of the border post at 19:30 local time (1830 GMT) on Friday.
A number of loyalists of Gaddafi has fled the border post into Tunisia, said the correspondent, adding that thousands of Libyan refugees are fleeing into Tunisia to escape the ongoing fierce fighting between the rebels and pro-Gaddafi forces in the Libyan cities of Zouara and Ajilet.
Tunisian border and medical authorities are reported to be on alert at the border post which was closed down for security reasons last week, except for humanitarian emergency cases.
The border post, which is considered of strategic importance due to its role in a major supply route to the Libyan capital Tripoli, has been a scene of fierce fighting between the two sides in the Libyan conflict since the Libyan uprising in February.
Gaddafi’s al-Azizya camp under control of Libyan rebel forces
BEIJING, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) — In southern Tripoli on Friday, several kilometers away from downtown Green Square, stands the Bab al-Azizya compound, a military complex which had accommodated Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s offices, residential houses and soldiers until it was captured by rebel troops on Tuesday.
Unlike military camps in other countries, which are mostly set up in the suburbs of a city, al-Azizya sits within a residential area, merely separated from nearby residential houses by a three-meter-high concrete wall.
Most sections of the half-meter-thick wall still stand there, but covered with many bullet holes. Several buildings outside the wall have been razed to the ground. Residents nearby had fled there many days ago.
Inside the compound, every building, including Gaddafi’s two-floor office mansion, his family members’ houses, and barracks, is protected independently by a wall.
Gaddafi’s office mansion stands in the center of the compound, where the Libyan leader used to deliver televised speeches on the second floor.
Rebel fighters tell Xinhua that Gaddafi had been living in the mansion since 1969 until he moved his residence to a farm near an airport in Tripoli. After that, the mansion became a place where Gaddafi received foreign guests, convened important meetings and delivered televised speeches.
Inside the whole Bab al-Azizya compound, Gaddafi’s office mansion was the last place where anyone with weapons was allowed to enter.
Now, the mansion has been destroyed by rebel troops’ bombardment, and bullet shells, rubbles and debris are scattered on the ground. Flocks of rebel fighters went to the place, smashing and throwing away whatever they saw there to vent their rage at the Gaddafi regime.
There was a heavy fighting between Gaddafi’s forces and rebels overnight Thursday near the Bab al-Azizya compound. Rebels claimed that Gaddafi might be hiding inside a building nearby, but admitted it was difficult to pinpoint his hideout before they could find the secret underground tunnels built around the compound.
Right in front of the mansion stands a huge bronze statue — a fist clutching a U.S. fighter jet, symbolizing the Gaddafi regime’s determination to resist Western countries led by the United States.
Now, the statue has become the rebel forces’ trophy. The rebels believed that there is a well-designed complicated network of underground channels between Gaddafi’s office mansion and the statue, which they have not completely cracked so far.
A rebel fighter said the underground network is very complicated and so far the rebels have found only three exits, one leading to the Tripoli International Airport, another one to Green Square in the city center, and the third one to a zoo near Rixos Hotel where more than 30 foreign journalists were held captive for five days.
One of the underground tunnels is about two meters wide and two meters high, installed with communication equipment like telephones. The rebel fighters have currently banned further visit to it for security concerns.
Just next to Gaddafi’s office mansion, a three-floor villa where Gaddafi’s third son Saadi lived was severely damaged during the fighting and the facilities inside have been smashed or taken away.
On a path between two buildings were the bodies of three government soldiers, rotten under the sun.
Outside the wall of the compound, fighting between the rebel troops and pro-Gaddafi forces is still raging on, and the deafening roar of submachine gun fire and explosions engulfed the Bab al-Azizya compound.
British forces fire missiles at Gaddafi stronghold
LONDON, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) — British military officials on Friday confirmed that RAF Tornado GR4s struck a military facility in Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s stronghold of Sirte.
The Defense Ministry said in a statement that “a formation of Tornado GR4s fired a salvo of Storm Shadow precision-guided missiles against a large headquarters bunker” in Sirte.
The bunker housed a command and control center. There is no indication that Gaddafi was in Sirte or in the bunker itself at the time of the attack.
British Defense Secretary Liam Fox was quoted as saying that “it’s not a question of finding Gaddafi, it’s ensuring the regime does not have the capability to continue waging war against its own people.”
“The attack that we launched on the bunker in Sirte last night was to make sure that there was no alternative command and control should the regime try to leave Tripoli.”
As events in Tripoli continue to unfold, with reports of fighting continuing, as well as members of Libya’s National Transitional Council beginning to move into the city, it has been announced that an international conference on Libya co-chaired by British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will be held in Paris next week.