Politics | Human rights
Will there be a battle of Tripoli?
Reports from the Libyan capital this evening are contradicting. Several sources repeat that the streets of Tripoli are dominated by the regime's last thugs, plain-cloth men armed with anything from machine guns to sables, and occasional police and army units.
He also called on Libyan security forces to "go from house to house" to oust the protesters. Police forces during the last week have done just that, but today, there were fewer uniformed men to be seen in Tripoli. Also in Tripoli, many police and army officers are now refusing to follow orders.
Meanwhile, the area under the regime's control is rapidly decreasing. The outskirts of Tripoli are rapidly falling into the hands of protesters, often supported by army and police units.
Only a few days ago, the "liberated area" was confined to the north-eastern coast of Libya, around the cities of Benghazi and al-Bayda and towards the Egyptian border. The liberated area quickly was expanding westwards.
Today, almost all populated places in Libya are dominated or controlled by the protesters. Even the isolated Sahara town Al-Jawf in the Kufra Oasis today reports that the pre-Ghaddafi Libyan flag has been hoisted. "Young people have taken complete control of the city," a merry message from Kufra said today. Protesters were also in control of the Chadian border.
More significantly, western Libya is now almost completely "liberated", with towns and cities less than 40 kilometres away from Tripoli, such as Zawiya, hoisitng the blac
Outside Tripoli, there is only fighting in towns very close to the capital, including the Tajura suburb, and there are unconfirmed reports that Syrte, Mr Ghaddafi's home town, has been attacked by loyal troops after having been on protesters' hands for over one day. Regarding the desert town of Ghadames, there are contradicting messages.
All these "liberated areas" now are seeing increasing cooperation between civilians and the armed forces. Peoples' committees are being set up to secure peace and order, and the army is voluntarily receiving weapons earlier seized by the protesters. There is more and more talk about sending these troops loyal to the people to Tripoli to assist civilians there.
In Tripoli, the army is of course aware that most of its brothers have already deserted or joined the protesters. It is assumed that the numbers still loyal to Mr Ghaddafi is quickly dwindling.
Tripoli residents therefore hope they can avoid the feared "final battle", as the possibility increased that the remaining armed forces in the capital may soon switch sides.
By staff writers
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