Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tripoli on Brink as Rebels Reach Capital; Crowds Greet Forces as They Enter City

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tripoli on Brink as Rebels Reach Capital; Crowds Greet Forces as They Enter City

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Black

M UAMMAR Gaddafi's stronghold of Tripoli was looking increasingly under threat last night as rebel forces pushed on to the outskirts of the Libyan capital without meeting any resistance.

The rebels moved into the western suburb of Janzour on the outskirts of Tripoli where they were greeted by civilians lining the streets and waving rebel flags. Earlier, they captured a major military base defending Triploi as clashes and protests raged in the streets.

The tide of the six-month-old civil war appeared to be turning quickly against the leader of more than four decades.

Rebels rapidly advancing toward Tripoli took over the base of the Khamis Brigade, 16 miles west of the capital. After a brief gun battle, Gaddafi's forces fled what was once a major symbol of the regime's power.

Gaddafi's 27-year-old son Khamis commands the 32nd Brigade, also known simply as the Khamis Brigade, one of the best trained and equipped units in the Libyan military.

Inside the base, hundreds of rebels cheered wildly and danced, raising the rebel flag on the front gate of a large wall enclosing the compound. They seized large stores of weapons, driving away with truckloads of whatever arms they could get their hands on.

Ahmed al-Ajdal, 27, a fighter from Tripoli, was loading up a truck with ammunition.

"This is the wealth of the Libyan people that Gaddafi was using against us," he said, pointing to his haul. "Now we will use it against him and any other dictator who goes against the Libyan people."

In Tripoli, there was a second day of widespread clashes between what the opposition called "sleeping cells" of rebels who are rising up and Gaddafi loyalists. There were also large anti-government protests.

Rebels said on Saturday that they had launched their first attack on Tripoli in co-ordination with Nato and gunbattles and mortar rounds rocked the city. Nato aircraft also made heavier-than-usual bombing runs after nightfall, with loud explosions booming across the city. …

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