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Libyan Rebels Control Most of Capital, Fighting Continues

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Libyan rebels trying to oust Moammar Gadhafi say they control most of the capital, Tripoli, but shooting continued Monday as pockets of fighters loyal to the Libyan leader were holding out in parts of the city.

The rebels said fighting intensified when tanks emerged from Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound and opened fire.

The head of the Libyan opposition's Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, said the rebels do not know Gadhafi's whereabouts. He said Gadhafi will receive a fair trial once captured, but he does not know how the dictator will defend himself against the crimes committed against the Libyan people and the world.

The latest fighting comes after the rebels broke through Tripoli's outer defenses and reached the city's central Green Square, where thousands celebrated the opposition's arrival.

After the rebels arrived, jubilant Libyans in the central square, which the rebels have renamed Martyrs Square, tore down posters of Gadhafi and stomped on them. Until recently, the government had used the area for mass demonstrations in support of Gadhafi.

The rebel troops moved into central Tripoli with little resistance after capturing a key military base near the edge of the city as they advanced from the west.

The rebels say they have detained two of Gadhafi's sons, including his one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam.

International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Monday he will contact the rebels and urge them to surrender Seif al-Islam to the Hague-based court as soon as possible. Seif al-Islam is indicted along with his father and Libya's intelligence chief on charges of crimes against humanity for allegedly planning and ordering attacks on civilians in the early days of the crackdown on anti-government protests.

Opposition fighters hauled away truckloads of weapons and ammunition from the captured base run by the government's elite Khamis Brigade, which was commanded by another of Gadhafi's sons. On their way into the capital, opposition forces also freed several hundred prisoners from a government jail.

A rebel spokesman said insurgents also sent a group of fighters into the capital by sea from the port of Misrata. He said the elite presidential guard in charge of protecting Gadhafi had surrendered, enabling the opposition to seize large parts of Tripoli.

The International Organization for Migration said Monday it had chartered a boat to Tripoli to begin evacuating stranded migrants. The boat, which can carry 300 people, left Benghazi early Monday.

On Sunday, Libyan state television broadcast a series of defiant audio messages from Gadhafi. In one, he acknowledged that opposition forces were moving into Tripoli. The Libyan leader said he would stay in the capital "until the end" to defend the city and called on supporters to help liberate it.

Huge crowds gathered early Monday on the streets of Benghazi, the rebel capital in eastern Libya, as reports of the assault on Tripoli grew and expectations mounted that Gadhafi's hold on power was faltering.

The Libyan leader has seen the areas under his control shrink significantly in recent weeks as rebels advanced on Tripoli from the west, east and south after six months of fighting to end his four-decade rule.

NATO warplanes have been supporting the rebels by bombing pro-Gadhafi forces under a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing military action to protect Libyan civilians from government attacks.

The Libyan Rebellion

February 15, 2011: Inspired by Arab Spring revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, riots break out in Benghazi
February 26, 2011: The U.N. Security Council imposes sanctions on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his family. The International Criminal Court is asked to investigate the crackdown on rebels.
March 19, 2011: U.S., Britain and France launch U.N.-mandated air attacks over Libya to halt advances on civilians by Mr. Gadhafi's forces.
March 30, 2011: Libyan Foreign Minister, Moussa Koussa, defects and flies to Britain. Other senior officials follow suit.
April 30, 2011: A NATO missile attack on a house in Tripoli kills Mr. Gadhafi's youngest son and three grandchildren.
June 27, 2011: The International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants for Mr. Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.
July 15, 2011: The United States recognizes the Transitional National Council as the legitimate government of Libya.
July 28, 2011: Former interior minister Abdel Fattah Younes, who defected to the rebels in February and became their military chief, is killed.
August 20, 2011: Rebels launch their first attack on the nation's capital, Tripoli, in coordination with NATO forces.

Article by VOA News