Open Thread & News Round-Up: Libya

Well! A lot of goings-on over the weekend in Libya, with rebels continuing to move in the capital and declaring it "zero hour" for Qaddafi. Here's the latest...

The Guardian's live updates are here. Al Jazeera's live coverage is here.

AP—Libyan rebels claim control of most of Tripoli: "The international community called on Gadhafi to step down and moved ahead with post-war planning as euphoric residents celebrated in the Green Square, the symbolic heart of the Gadhafi regime. ... The Western alliance promised to maintain its air campaign until all pro-Gadhafi forces surrender or return to barracks. NATO warplanes have hit at least 40 targets in and around Tripoli in the past two days - the highest number on a single geographic location since the bombing started more than five months ago, officials said."

CNN—Gadhafi regime appears to be 'crumbling' as rebels advance in Tripoli: "An amateur league of ill-trained rebel fighters appears to be on the brink of toppling Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year rule after reportedly capturing two of the leader's sons and infiltrating the Libyan capital."

BBC—Scenes of joy as Libya rebels enter central Tripoli: "Fighting has continued overnight in some districts while the rebels and their supporters have been celebrating on Green Square - which they renamed Martyrs' Square. TV footage showed Libyans kneeling and kissing the ground of Tripoli in gratitude for what some called a 'blessed day'."

Al Jazeera—Fighting erupts near Gaddafi's compound:
Heavy fighting and gun battles have broken out in areas of Tripoli after opposition fighters gained control overnight of much of the Libyan capital in their battle to end Muammar Gaddafi's decades-long rule.

Clashes erupted on Monday after tanks left Bab Azaziya, Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli, to confront the rebel assault

Many of the streets in the centre of the city, where anti-government supporters had celebrated hours earlier, were abandoned as pockets of pro-Gaddafi resistance and the presence of snipers and artillery fire made the area dangerous.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, who advanced into the city with rebel fighters overnight, said the security situation in the city was "tenuous."

"There are some Gaddafi forces still putting up a fight," our correspondent said.
Bloomberg—Libyan Rebels Sweep Into Tripoli as Qaddafi's Rule Nears End: "President Barack Obama said Qaddafi must recognize he 'no longer controls' Libya as celebrations broke out in Tripoli's Green Square, the location for pro-government rallies in recent months. Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said Qaddafi was ready to negotiate with Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of the rebel council, and asked for an immediate cease-fire."

New York TimesJubilant Rebels Control Much of Tripoli:
In the city's central Green Square, the site of many manufactured rallies in support of Colonel Qaddafi, jubilant Libyans tore down posters of him and stomped on them. The rebel leadership announced that the elite presidential guard protecting the Libyan leader had surrendered and that their forces controlled many parts of the city, but not Colonel Qaddafi's leadership compound.

The National Transitional Council, the rebel governing body, issued a mass text message saying: "We congratulate the Libyan people for the fall of Muammar Qaddafi and call on the Libyan people to go into the street to protect the public property. Long live free Libya."

Officials loyal to Colonel Qaddafi insisted that the fight was not over, and there were clashes between rebels and government troops early on Monday morning. But NATO and American officials said that the Qaddafi government's control of Tripoli, which had been its final stronghold, was now in doubt.

President Obama said Sunday night that Colonel Qaddafi and his inner circle had "to recognize that their rule has come to an end" and called on Colonel Qaddafi "to relinquish power once and for all." He also called on the National Transitional Council to avoid civilian casualties and protect state institutions as it took control of the country.

"Tonight, the momentum against the Qaddafi regime has reached a tipping point," Mr. Obama said in a statement. "Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant. The Qaddafi regime is showing signs of collapsing. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator."
Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the Libyan rebel council is currently giving a press conference, during which he just said: "We are on the threshold of a new era [in which] we will work to establish the principles that this revolution was based on. Which are: freedom, democracy, justice, equality and transparency. Within a moderate Islamic framework. A nation in which all citizens are equal ... and which can include all factors and factions of society. From the east of Libya to the west. From the North to the south and the centre. We are all Libyans. We all have the right to live with dignity in this nation."


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