As it happened: Libya conflict

Key points

  • Rebel fighters have been moving towards the capital, Tripoli, from the east and the west, following their recent gains
  • They have captured a key army base on the road to Tripoli, seizing large amounts of arms
  • The rebels were halted in their advance from the west, retreating under heavy fire in Maya
  • New clashes have been reported in Tripoli following clashes in several districts overnight
  • In an audio message on state TV, Col Gaddafi said he would stay in Tripoli until the end
  • The regime earlier called for an immediate ceasefire, saying Nato faces having blood on its hands

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    Hello and welcome to our live coverage of events unfolding in Libya, where rebel fighters are pushing towards Tripoli on three fronts after seizing two key towns from pro-Gaddafi forces on Saturday. Libya's leader Colonel Gaddafi spoke overnight, adamant that Tripoli was safe, and that rebel "rats" had been "eliminated".

    1135: Rupert Wingfield-Hayes BBC News, Jaddayim

    The rebels left the city of Zawiya this morning and they moved up the road to take this small town about 40km west of Tripoli. There was considerable fighting about half an hour ago here but they seemed to have cleared the town of Jaddayim which is the next place on the road to the capital. They're now fortifying their positions here and the troops are now getting back on their pickups ready to head down the road to Tripoli. There are hundreds and hundreds of rebels here in pickup trucks or just walking with their Kalashnikov rifles down the road to Tripoli. It's still very early in the day and it's hard to say what's going to happen but this does feel like it may be perhaps the start of the march on Tripoli.


    Libya's former prime minister Abdel Salam Jalloud is in Italy, the country's defence minister is quoted by news agency AFP as saying. This appears to back up earlier reports that Jalloud - once a close ally of Col Gaddafi - had flown to Italy after defecting.

    A rebel ducks for cover behind a tree

    This picture of a Libyan rebel ducking for cover during fighting comes from the town of Jaddayim, the latest town captured by rebel forces

    Via SMS Steve, Liverpool

    texts: Why are you saying the rebels in Libya are gaining ground and achieving this or that? It is Nato action that is determining this not the rebels.


    An unconfirmed report on the AFP news agency says a rebel operation called "Mermaid" is underway in Tripoli to isolate Col Gaddafi and force his surrender or departure. A rebel spokesman says this involves rebels fighting around Tripoli, plus Nato action. Nato is enforcing a UN resolution to protect civilians from Col Gaddafi's forces, but critics say it has overstepped its mandate by helping the rebels.


    The BBC's Matthew Price, in Tripoli, cautions: "In the past rebels have made advances only to be pushed back by Gaddafi forces, so I think what we will see in the next few hours is where the balance of forces lies in this possibly decisive push for the capital. What was apparent overnight is that the pro-Gaddafi forces in this city are well equipped - they have heavy weaponry - and appear determined."


    Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim is giving a news conference in Tripoli. He has strong words for Nato which he said "has gone mad indeed". "Nato in the last week or so, truly in a very professional way has been opening the roads ahead of the rebels who are too weak to do anything themselves."


    "What we are fearing now is a true vendetta that knows no limits," Moussa Ibrahim says of the international action. "These rebels do not have a moral record, a good one," he adds.


    Moussa Ibrahim is still holding forth, taking journalists through what the regime believes has been going on in Libya in the past few days. He is now accusing the rebels of carrying out executions west of Tripoli.


    The Libyan government spokesman tells the news conference that if the rebels reach Tripoli they will not have a political project. He accuses them of not wanting democracy and human rights but blood and revenge. "I thought I knew the West," says Moussa Ibrahim. "But in this conflict I saw a different West... The West of blood and disaster and killing and occupation."

    Emil Tin

    tweets: Libyan spokesperson is pathetic, trying to justify the crimes of #Gaddafi. #Libya


    tweets: Matiga Base is surrounded by freedom fighters who are expected to claim it within hours.


    The BBC's Matthew Price, in Tripoli, says: "In a measured and emotional speech, Libya's Information Minister Moussa Ibrahim called for a ceasefire and negotiations to find a peaceful way out of the crisis. He said that if the rebels reached Tripoli their priority would be revenge and Nato would have blood on its hands. Today there has been an occasional sound of explosions in the distance - but it's hard to tell where it's coming from - it may be further to north and possible to the east, which would suggest it's coming from similar areas to last night's fighting."

    Karim, Algeria

    emails: I am Algerian and I sincerely believe that Nato is going to leave us a mess on our eastern border.

    1305: Rupert Wingfield-Hayes BBC News, Jaddayim

    Hundreds of rebel fighters in Libya have been halted in their advance towards Tripoli from the west. They came under heavy gunfire in the town of Maya, 40km west of the capital, and retreated.


    tweets: Libya,Government spokesman says'thousands'ofsoldiers are prepared to defendTripoli


    A Maltese ship which was due to evacuate foreign nationals from Tripoli on Sunday came under fire and was forced to retreat to sea, Poland's foreign ministry is quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

    1320: Rupert Wingfield-Hayes BBC News, Zawiya

    I'm now back in Zawiya after travelling this morning with the rebels who were in high spirits as they pushed forward rapidly taking Jaddayim until they were stalled 35km from Tripoli. At Maya they were met with very heavy incoming fire and they ran back along road, setting up a new front line a few kilometres out of the town. The rebels do not have heavy artillery and when they come up against Grad rocket launchers, for example, they do not have much to defend themselves. In the last hour I've heard there have been Nato air strikes ahead of the rebels further down the road.


    Rebel Libyan TV, broadcasting from Doha, has issued a directive on how to behave when arresting supporters of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. It urges listeners to treat them with honour. Any arrested supporter is ''just as Libyan as you are, his dignity stems for your dignity.

    "It is enough humiliation for him that he is under arrest.''


    Libyan rebel radio quotes Tripoli residents as saying the capital's streets "are completely silent and empty, turning the town into a ghost town". In a 1320 GMT update heard by BBC Monitoring, Libya FM said: ''An atmosphere of cautious calm is spreading in Tripoli, but all news indicates that the coming few hours will be decisive in this battle to liberate the Libyan capital."


    Murad Dabdoub, a fighter who returned from the front to Zawiya, which is 50km west of the Tripoli, told the Associated Press news agency that Col Gaddafi's forces were pounding rebel positions with rockets, mortars and anti-aircraft fire.


    A spokesperson from the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth office said: "Free Libya Forces have made important advances over the last few days; this is testament to the determination of Libyans to end Gaddafi's grip on the country and his continued attacks on civilians. We have always said that this should be a Libya-led process but Nato has played an important role in supporting the Libyan people through implementing UNSCR [UN Security Council resolution]1973 to protect civilians."


    In response to the Libyan information minister's earlier speech that Nato countries would be held morally responsible for any blood spilt, Nato spokesman Col Roland Lavoie told the BBC's Newshour programme: "Our mandate is to protect the population of Libya against attacks or threats of attacks. And this is what we have done since the beginning."


    Col Roland Lavoie added that Nato was only targeting government control centres: "What we're doing essentially is observing, monitoring and hitting basically, recently, many command and control facilities."


    Early gains by rebels west of Tripoli have stalled.

    A rebel fight runs from fire in Jaddayim on Sunday 21 August 2011
    1420: ChangeInLibya

    tweets about Tripoli: There are snipers on top of the high apartments overlooking Jumhuriya street in #BenAshour, huge clashes between locals & #Gaddafi brigades


    The BBC's Orla Guerin in Zlitan says: "This town, 150km east of Tripoli, is the scene of one of the rebels' most recent victories - it was taken on Friday when heavily armed elite troops were driven out. Now the rebels are in position on the main road; they've been manning checkpoints, inspecting vehicles coming in and out. They drove by a few minutes ago with a car load of prisoners who they said were recently captured mercenaries. Tripoli is less than a two-and-a-half hour drive from here. The fighters have been given a tremendous boost from reports from Tripoli of disturbances overnight; they believe an uprising has begun. One fighter said that he believed at the end of his month there would be a double celebration for Eid, marking the end of the fasting of Ramadan, and also the end of Col Gaddafi."


    Libyan rebels say they entered Tripoli by sea from Misrata, 200km west of the capital, AFP news agency reports. An advance party "from Misrata reached Tripoli this dawn by sea and joined Tripoli rebels. They are now fighting alongside them," spokesman Abdullah Melitan in Misrata in Tripoli said.

    Via Twitter Mhalwes

    tweets: People are resorting to blocking their streets WITH THEIR OWN CARS just to prevent Gdfi's patrols frm coming in SITUATION IS TERRIBLE


    Libyan rebels say they have arrested a senior official loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. They said Mukhtar Ali al-Qannas was Col Gaddafi's "personal envoy to Africa". The announcement came in a caption on opposition Qatar-based Libya TV.

    1505: Nusaybah Khalil

    tweets: Called my relatives (refugees in Tunisia) - they said my cousins have abandoned refugee camp and heading to #Tripoli to join the battle.


    Rebel forces on the western front have been in good spirits, chanting as they marched on the road to Tripoli. This photo was taken by the BBC team near Jeddayim, before reaching Maya from where they retreated to wait for Nato aircraft to hit pro-Gaddafi positions to try and reopen the way to the capital.

    Rebel fighters near Jeddayim - Sunday 21 August 2011

    The Libyan rebels' ambassador to the United Arab Emirates has urged Nato to step up air attacks on Tripoli, AP news agency reports. "We are asking for more Apache action. They're very much needed," Aref Ali Nayed said.


    Libyan rebel TV says rebels have surrounded the house in Tripoli of the army's Lt-Gen al-Khuwayldi al-Humaydi, who has served as assistant chief of general staff. The station, which broadcasts from Qatar, said: ''They are currently negotiating with his guards on his handover.''


    Germany's leader Angela Merkel has urged the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down as the rebels advance on Tripoli, AP news agency reports. The chancellor told ZDF television it would be "good if he would give up as quickly as possible" to avoid further bloodshed. Her foreign minister said: "We hope this is the turning point; we hope that the last days of this unjust regime have begun."

    A volunteer carries in a wounded rebel fighter in the Abu-Rafat hospital on the outskirts of Zawiya - Sunday 21 August 2011

    At a hospital on the outskirts of Zawiya west of Tripoli a volunteer is photographed on Sunday carrying in a wounded rebel fighter for treatment.

    1608: AC Tripolis

    tweets: Now: Frontline in Dahra is 100m from my office, next Kings Palace. HEAVY fighting machine gun, mortars, AA fire #Tripoli #Libya


    Rebels have seized an army barracks at the western entrance to the capital, Tripoli, AFP news agency reports. Hundreds of rebel fighters entered the base some 27km from the capital on the road from Zawiya.


    This photo shows a prisoner after he was apparently freed from jail by rebels in Maya, 35km west of Tripoli, earlier on Sunday.

    A prisoner in Maya pictured after his release from jail - Sunday 21 August 2011

    A correspondent for al-Jazeera TV has said Libyan rebels have captured the city of Tarhuna, 80km south-east of Tripoli.


    The AP news agency is also now reporting that rebels have captured the military base about 25km west of Tripoli. Their reporter travelling with the rebels said it was the base of the Khamis Brigade, commanded by Col Gaddafi's son Khamis.


    tweets: I hear our youth in Dahra #Tripoli chanting and singing the name of #Libya. We smell freedom


    The suburb of Tajoura in eastern Tripoli is now under the control of rebels, an eyewitness told the AFP news agency.


    The eyewitness says government troops have been shelling the suburb since its capture, AFP reports.


    The UK Foreign Office has responded to Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim's appeal for a ceasefire and his accusations that Nato has "gone mad". An FCO spokesman said: "Our overriding priority has always been to protect Libyan civilians and to enable them to choose their own future. Nato action will continue whilst a threat to civilians remains."


    There are reports that the rebels seized large quantities of weapons and ammunition when they captured an army base just west of Tripoli earlier today. The Associated Press say hundreds of rebels entered the Khamis Brigade barracks and left with truck loads of arms.


    One rebel, Ahmed al-Ajdal, 27, was loading ammunition onto a lorry at the base. He told AP: "This is the wealth of the Libyan people that he [Gaddafi] was using against us. Now we will use it against him and any other dictator who goes against the Libyan people."


    Reuters, citing activists in Tripoli, says 200 rebel reinforcements have arrived in the city by sea from Misrata. There is fierce fighting at the Mitigia air base, says the agency.


    Reuters is reporting that automatic gunfire has been heard around the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli, where foreign reporters are based.


    The barracks seized by rebels today are home to the Khamis Brigade, an elite army unit named after and commanded by one of Col Gaddafi's son. They are one of the best trained and equipped units in the Libyan military and the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Libya says this is a major achievement for the rebels.

    1727: Khaled, London

    says: "There is a real sense that the end of the regime is imminent. Areas on the outskirts of Tripoli remain tense. My cousins, aunts and uncles are trapped in the city."


    Nato spokesman Roland Lavoie tells the BBC the alliance has no contact with the rebels and is not co-ordinating their advance. "It is up to the two parties to sort out their differences and to figure out how they could get out of that crisis. In the meantime, Nato is just providing security and this is the mandate we will continue to do in the coming days."


    In his latest report from the capital, Tripoli, the BBC's Matthew Price says: "The rebels have called this "zero hour", the hour when the uprising came back to Tripoli. Throughout the night and much of the day there has been the sound of gunfire, small arms and heavy weapons and explosions. It's clear there have been bloody battles in parts of the city. In areas where the fighting has not been taking place, people were said to be staying indoors. A government source here told the BBC that there are 65,000 professional soldiers loyal to Col Gaddafi ready to defend this city. The source also believes that the tribes here are preparing to protect their own. There is a fear among some in government circles that if the rebels are allowed to reach Tripoli the city could be on the verge of all-out tribal warfare.


    Libya State TV is playing music over footage showing Libyans cheering in support of Col Muammar Gaddafi.


    Saad Djebbar, a commentator on North Africa and former lawyer for the Libyan government, told the BBC he believes Col Muammar Gaddafi's government is on the point of collapse: "He has lost control, lost influence, lost communications and it shows that the people who were with him ideologically, related to him by history, by tribe - no-one now is in Tripoli."


    Libyan rebel TV, broadcasting from Qatar, said their flag had been raised over Tripoli International Airport this afternoon. It also said the Libyan army's deputy chief-of-staff al-Mahdi al-Arabi was under arrest in the city of Zawiya.


    BBC Monitoring says pro-Gaddafi Libyan TV stations have not shown verifiable live video content from Tripoli since Saturday.


    Libyan rebels have advanced to 12km west of Tripoli, an AFP new agency correspondent reports. He said the rebels were moving in a convoy of around 100 vehicles as onlookers fired celebratory gunfire into the air.


    The BBC's Jonathan Head in Misrata says:"Morale in this rebel-held port has been given a tremendous boost by recent successes against Col Gaddafi's forces. Now the volunteer fighters who have broken the siege of the city face a much tougher challenge - to organise an assault on the capital nearly 200km further down the road. The military council in the city says it has no choice but to push forward. Those who have risen up against the Gaddafi government in Tripoli are depending on their help. But the opposition has suffered heavy casualties in recent fighting and says it will be relying on greatly improved co-ordination with Nato to clear tanks and artillery in their way. Last week just one pro-Gaddafi tank blocked the advance into Zlitan, killing nine rebel fighters with a single shot. It was only when a Nato aircraft destroyed it that the opposition could take the town.


    In his second message in as many days, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has refused to surrender, AFP news agency reports. In a new audio message broadcast on television he said would emerge "victorious" from the fighting.


    This photo shows smoke rising over Tripoli's skyline on Sunday.

    Tripoli's skyline - photographed on Sunday 21 August 2011

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to give up power and "immediately order those of his forces that are still loyal to a ceasefire, to put down their arms, to return to their barracks and make themselves available to the legitimate Libyan authorities", AFP news agency reports.


    Thousands of rebel fighters 25km west of the capital are advancing towards Tripoli, a Reuters correspondent reports.


    Fighting in Tripoli on Saturday night and Sunday morning killed 376 people on both sides and injured about 1,000, an official in Muammar Gaddafi's government told Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity.


    Here are some of the quotes from Muammar Gaddafi recently broadcast on al-Jamahiriyah TV: "I am with you in this battle; I am in your midst now. I am with you with my rifle. We will not surrender. We won't ever abandon Tripoli to the colonialists and traitors. We will sacrifice Tripoli with our blood and our soul. We would sacrifice Libya with our blood and soul."


    The rebels approaching Tripoli from the west have entered the capital, an AFP reporter travelling with the rebels says.


    A fierce gun battle broke out near the hotel used by the foreign reporters in the centre of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, late on Sunday, a correspondent for the AFP news agency has said. Fighters loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, armed with Kalashnikov rifles, opened fire from the Hotel Rixos towards the east, although their target was not visible.


    Moayed, a Libyan PhD dentistry student at Manchester University, told the BBC he fears for his family in Tripoli and he calls them every two hours to check they are ok. "They feel as though they could be killed any moment. We're happy this is the beginning of the end but the beginning of the end will be very costly."


    An AFP correspondent travelling with rebels as were entering Tripoli from the west said they were hailed by a jubilant crowd, with music and people running alongside the convoy. The welcome followed clashes with pro-Gaddafi forces.


    The BBC team on the road west of Tripoli have confirmed that the key military Khamis Brigade barracks is under rebel control.


    Associated Press reporters with the rebels coming from the west into Tripoli said they reached the city's Janzour suburb at nightfall on Sunday. They were greeted by civilians lining the streets and waving rebel flags.


    This photo shows a Libyan rebel celebrating inside the captured military base west of Tripoli on Sunday afternoon.

    A Libyan rebel firing in celebration at the captured military base 27km west of Tripoli - Sunday 21 August 2011
    Matthew Chance, CNN Senior International Correspondent

    tweets: Controlled panic in the #Rixos. All journos wearing body armor moving into what will hopefully will be safe room. Int'l Journos grouping together frantically trying to work out safest options as heavy gunfire crackles outside.


    Abdel Salam Jalloud, a former Libyan minister who has now defected to the rebels, told Italy's Rai News television that he thought Muammar Gaddafi's rule was about to end "within a week", at the latest 10 days.


    Nato says the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is "crumbling" under the attack by rebels on the capital. Nato spokeswoman Oana Lungescu told AFP: "The sooner Gaddafi realises there is no way he can win, the better for everyone."


    Libya's intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi told journalists in Tripoli this evening that Libya had worked closely with Western governments to combat terrorism. Now, he said, "Western intelligence" was "working alongside al-Qaeda to destroy Libya."

    Jeffrey Kofman, ABC News, London

    tweets: Just spoke with a journalist at the Rixos. About 20 left. Hotel staff and minders have abandoned them. Constant gunfire. Very worrisome.


    In this photo gunmen loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi run through the grounds of the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli.

    Pro-Gaddafi gunmen running through the grounds of the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli - Sunday 21 August 2011

    Rebei Dehan, a spokesman for the Red Saraya rebel brigade - currently about 60km (37 miles) south of Tripoli - tells the BBC the city is surrounded and the rebel troops are strong, so it is "only a matter of hours" before Tripoli is captured. "In fact, the liberation of Tripoli has not only begun it is almost 90% done, because the job being done by people inside Tripoli is even bigger than the people coming from outside."


    The BBC's Jonathan Head in Misrata says that for all their optimism and determination to help the people in Tripoli, the rebels there have not been able to move quickly towards the capital. "They realise the urgency now there's an uprising there, but we can't say how long they will be."


    A BBC producer has been to see the Khamis Brigade barracks, about 30km (19 miles) west of Tripoli and says they are firmly in rebel hands. "They've also captured huge amounts of ammunition and weapons - we saw a truck with almost 50 anti-tank missiles on it."


    It will be a tough battle for rebels advancing from the west, says our producer. "They anticipate a big battle at a freeway bridge 17km from Tripoli, but with the momentum and new arms they have they could well be on the outskirts of Tripoli tomorrow."

    2039: Jonathan Head, Misrata BBC News

    Morale in Misrata has been given a tremendous boost by recent successes against Col Gaddafi's forces. Now the volunteer fighters who have broken the siege of the city face a much tougher challenge - to organise an assault on the capital nearly 100 miles further down the road. The military council here says it has no choice but to push forward. Those who have risen up against the Gaddafi government in Tripoli are depending on their help.


    More from Nato spokeswoman Oana Lungescu on the "crumbling" regime in Libya: "What you are seeing tonight is the cumulative effect, over time, of the eroded capabilities of the regime. Clearly we're into the last stage of the regime - the writing is on the wall. We're seeing people packing their bags - three top people defecting in the last couple of days, and Gaddafi-controlled territory shrinking before our eyes."


    Libya's Al-Jamahiriya state TV has reported that a "a short while ago" Col Muammar Gaddafi "went on a tour in the Green Square and some of the streets in Tripoli". This report could not be independently verified.

    2050: Lulu Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Tripoli

    tweets: Prisoners released from Khamis military base in Maia alleged beatings and torture. One man had cuts and bruises.

    2053: Via Twitter Matthew Price BBC News, Tripoli

    tweets: Lots of heavy gunfire closer to #Rixos now.

    2108: Matthew Price BBC News, Tripoli

    There is a real fear among senior government figures of some sort of tribal or urban warfare breaking out here in Tripoli, which will lead, in the words of one official, to a masscre. It has been reported that several hundred people were killed last night in just one night of fighting, and I think there are concerns in Tripoli that there could be worse to come. But then again, there are places where the rebels are not meeting such resistance. It is just very hard to gauge at this stage.


    Reuters reports that a rebel convoy has entered a western district of Tripoli, meeting with very little or no resistance.


    There are reports that a rebel convoy is only a few kilometres from the centre of Tripoli.

    2135: Via Email A resident of Tripoli

    The fighting is intense. All we can hear are gunshots. The civilian population is trapped. My family and friends have no option but to stay. We can not vacate the area and we are exposed to government forces. I'm afraid if the rebels do not succeed the Gaddafi regime will massacre innocent civilians. Everyone in Tripoli knows Gaddafi and his remaining forces will not show restraint... Everyone hopes the end will soon come. The last few hours have been horrendous.


    With heavy gunfire outside for several hours, here are some of the journalists inside the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli, the world media's base in the city for the past few months.

    Journalists in Rixos Hotel, Tripoli (21 Aug 2011)

    Al-Jazeera TV is reporting that Col Muammar Gaddafi's personal security team have surrendered and disarmed.


    Sky correspondent Alex Crawford, on the outskirts of Tripoli, says rebels in the convoy advancing towards the city centre are "being greeted like heroes".


    Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim has appeared on state TV, telling viewers: "Our country will be safe, in peace and in tranquillity soon.. These are the moments of the last battle in which we will be victorious God willing and the remnants of these gangs which are acting under Nato's orders will be destroyed."


    There are reports on social media that state TV in Libya is suffering technical problems or has gone off air.


    tweets: BEN ASHOOR CONFIRMED: Independence flag now raised on Abdel Ghani mosque on Ben Ashoor high street. Takbeer from mosque.


    The head of the rebels' Transitional National Council has told Al-Jazeera that Col Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam has been captured, Reuters reports.


    Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim is about to speak to the media.


    Moussa Ibrahim says he wants to "expose" what is happening in Tripoli and hold the world responsible for what is happening in "our great city".


    Mr Ibrahim says the Libyan Ministry of Health has told him 1,300 people have been killed in the past 11 hours and 5,000 injured. "The hospitals cannot even cope with such a death toll. We are saying out loud to the world, this is a peaceful city... and now it's being turned into hellfire because of Nato's actions."


    He says Nato has provided "direct armed cover to these armed gangs, who have no political project, no dream for Libya and are filled with hatred. All they want is to destroy this beautiful city, especially the tribes, the families and the neighbours that are well known for supporting the leader of this country."


    Mr Ibrahim has repeated his call for a ceasefire, but says no-one wants to listen. "All Nato cares about is to destroy this Libyan political system so it can have a political system which will fulfil its own desire, not the desires of the Libyan nation."


    "We are very resilient and very strong and we still have thousands of fighters who have nowhere to go but to fight. The death toll will increase because people are so scared of the revenge and hatred if they win. Each side is afraid of the other side."


    "If you take Muammar Gaddafi out of the equation a whole side would collapse and become an easy prey for the other side - that is why people are fighting for Gaddafi. You cannot deprive millions of people of the leader they chose and leave them to be easy prey for a vengeful, hateful side," says Mr Ibrahim. He says supporters of Col Gaddafi are coming to Tripoli from other cities to help the fight. "People have the right to fight."


    Mr Ibrahim says the rebels have been carrying out murders, arson, robberies and kidnaps. "They have already started their wave of crimes... The world cannot claim that it did not know."


    Downing Street has issued this statement on the situation in Libya tonight: "It is clear from the scenes we are witnessing in Tripoli that the end is near for Gaddafi. He has committed appalling crimes against the people of Libya and he must go now to avoid any further suffering for his own people."


    Nato spokeswoman Oana Lungescu says the situation is "very fluid" in Libya. "The sooner Gaddafi realises he cannot win this war against his own people, the better. He's the one who's responsible for starting the conflict and he should spare his people further bloodshed."


    The head of the rebel council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, told Al-Jazeera he had "information" on the capture of Col Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam. "He is being kept in a secure place under close guard until he is handed over to the judiciary," he said.


    Saif al-Islam Gaddafi once had a very close relationship with the West and was considered by many to represent a more democratic future for Libya. But since the uprising began he has become closely allied to his father. The International Criminal Court has a warrant out for his arrest on war crimes charges.

    2239: Matthew Price BBC News, Tripoli

    The rebels and the opposition forces clearly feel that the momentum is firmly with them - they clearly believe that they are on the verge of a significant victory and the overthrow of Col Gaddafi. I find it very hard to see why they would want to negotiate with a leader that appears to be so much on the back foot.


    The Libyan ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi - who has defected from the regime - tells the BBC that he has been told 90% Tripoli is now in rebel hands. "We are expecting to capture Gaddafi in the next few hours and maybe to catch his high officials. This is the end of the regime and with the fall of Tripoli I think all the other cities will follow and all his supporters will give up."


    An audio message said to be from Col Gaddafi is being broadcast on state TV. Reuters says he has called for Libyans to "save Tripoli".


    Abdul Hakim, a Tripoli resident, is speaking to the BBC from amid celebratory gunfire in the city. "We are going to establish the new country, we are going to go forward and not look back. We are going to build a new country and have good relationships with all the international community around the world."


    He says people are in the streets sharing cakes and drinks and hugging each other. "People were very hungry for freedom and tonight, everyone is getting a piece of this freedom."

    2304: Jonathan Marcus BBC Diplomatic Correspondent

    This is a testing time for Libya. Will the fighting subside quickly with the rapid toppling of the Col Gaddafi regime? And if the current regime is indeed destroyed what then? Will there be order or chaos; reconstruction or revenge? Col Gaddafi's regime welded the country together by fear. There were no other institutions other than tribal loyalties. With Col Gaddafi gone, centrifugal forces could tear Libyan society apart. The rebel leadership's problems are only just beginning.


    More on Col Gaddafi's latest appeal to the nation in an audio message to "save Tripoli" from a rebel attack (see 2250). He says: "It is the obligation of all Libyans. It is a question of life or death."

    2315: Via Twitter Al Jazeera

    tweets: Libya's NTC says offensive will halt if Gaddafi steps down, offered safe passage to leave country.


    Hakeem Guja, a Tripoli resident, tells the BBC: "We're celebrating victory! The people here are very happy, and we want to thank Nato forces for helping us! This is the end of Gaddafi's regime!"


    Col Gaddafi's 42-year rule in Libya is "clearly crumbling", Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. He adds: "The sooner Col Gaddafi realises that he cannot win the battle against his own people, the better - so that the Libyan people can be spared further bloodshed and suffering."


    Col Gaddafi's eldest son, Mohammed, has surrendered to rebel forces, the NTC's Adel Dabbechi tells Reuters.


    A BBC correspondent in Tripoli, who cannot be named because of safety reasons, people were celebrating on the streets after gunfire earlier in the day. Our correspondent adds: "People chanted 'God is great!' and 'We're free!' But there is also a lot of uncertainty because city residents think it's all happening too easy."


    More from Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (see 2329). He says the alliance "is ready" to work with the Libyan people and with the NTC. "They (the rebels) must make sure that the transition is smooth and inclusive, that the country stays united, and that the future is founded on reconciliation and respect for human rights."


    This concludes our live coverage of dramatic events in Libya on Sunday. Join us shortly for our reporting on Monday's events.


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