Libyan Rebels Search for Gaddafi in Tripoli as NATO Continues Airstrikes

BENGHAZI/TRIPOLI, Libya, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) — Libyan rebels vowed to capture Muammar Gaddafi as NATO continued airstrikes on Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli early Tuesday.

Gaddafi’s era is over and the real victory of Libyan revolution lies in the capture of him, said Mustafa Abdul Jalil, head of Libya’s National Transitional Council, at a press conference on Monday.

Jalil promised that Gaddafi would be given a fair trial if captured alive.

Libyan rebels enter the suburb of Tripoli, capital of Libya (Courtesy: Xinhua/Hamza Turkia)

Tripoli is under the rebels’ full control except for Bab al-Aziziyah, Gaddafi’s longtime command center, he said, adding that Gaddafi’s whereabouts remains unknown.

Jalil noted that nationwide, Surt and Sabah are still under the control of Gaddafi forces. But he said he believed Gaddafi forces will rise up from within when the blockades in these places are broken.

Earlier there were reports that Gaddafi’s elder son Mohammed and second son Saif al-Islam are both under custody of rebels in safe places.

But Saif, who was considered heir apparent, latter showed up on the streets on Tripoli and said his father is fine and is in Tripoli.

Jalil said that the new Libya will be a mild state and a responsible member of the international community, with Tripoli as the future capital.

Libyan people will be protected from political assassination, arrests and hanging, and the rebels will put down weapons as soon as peace is achieved, he stressed.

The rebel leader said that Gaddafi’s dream of dividing Libya was shattered and he would only be remembered for his acts against Libya and the world.

Jalil said that the new government will work to achieve safety, security, peace and prosperity for the people.

Meanwhile, NATO continued airstrikes on Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli early Tuesday, the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television cited rebel sources as reporting.

The unnamed sources said they could hear the attacks from near Bab al-Aziziyah, and bombings could also be heard near the Mitiga airbase, according to the report.

As the rebels continue their efforts to take full control of Tripoli by sending in more fighters and weapons, pro-Gaddafi tanks on Monday rolled out of the Bab al-Aziziyah compound in a bid to fend off rebels.

Many of the streets in the city center were left empty as they came under sniper shots and artillery fire, al-Jazeera television reported.

Although the rebels are closing in on one of Gaddafi’s last bastions, they were confronted by resistance of heavily-armed troops loyal to the Libyan leader.

“There are some Gaddafi forces still putting up a fight,” reported an al-Jazeera reporter from the scene.

The whereabouts of Gaddafi remained a myth but South Africa denied that it plans to give him a sanctuary.

In Johannesburg, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane dismissed reports that the country sent planes to Libya to arrange for the exit of Gaddafi.

She said South Africa is not ready to recognize the Libyan rebel government at the moment.

Libyan rebel forces took control of most of Tripoli on Sunday night and were still clearing up the remnants of pro-Gaddafi forces.

Residents in Tripoli flocked into the streets overnight to welcome the rebel forces, while thousands were celebrating the victory of the Libyan rebels in the opposition’s stronghold Benghazi.



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