At the moment it appears that this may end without great massacres or years of stalemate, and that would be grand.
By late Sunday, rebel fighters had converged on the capital from four directions, and opposition flags were fluttering over buildings across the city. Thousands of people poured onto the streets in areas under rebel control to celebrate, stomping on posters of Gaddafi, setting off fireworks and honking horns, even in the symbolically significant Green Square in the heart of the city, previously the scene of near-daily pro-Gaddafi rallies.
With communications to the capital sporadic and some journalists confined to their hotel, reports of opposition gains within Tripoli could not be independently confirmed, and some experts cautioned that a tough urban battle may yet lie ahead between the lightly armed and untrained rebels and the elite government forces kept in reserve for the defense of the capital.
But reporters traveling with rebel forces said Gaddafi’s defenses were melting away faster than had been expected, with reports of entire units fleeing as rebels entered the capital from the south, east and west, and his supporters inside the city tearing off their uniforms, throwing down their weapons and attempting to blend into the population.
A Tripoli-based activist said the rebels had secured the seaport, where several hundred reinforcements for the opposition had arrived by boat, and were in the process of evicting Gaddafi loyalists from the Mitiga air base on the eastern edge of the city.
“The Gaddafi regime is clearly crumbling,” said a statement issued by NATO, whose five-month-old aerial bombing campaign, ostensibly launched to protect civilians, contributed enormously to the erosion of government defenses. A U.S. official in Washington who was monitoring the intelligence from Libya said that the situation in Tripoli was fluid but that Gaddafi and his hard-core loyalists did not appear likely to give up easily.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Rebel Victory in Libya?
Big doings in Libya, where Gaddafi's regime is teetering: