Diplomat: Rebels control 95 percent of Tripoli
The rapid rebel advance into Tripoli in an hours-long blitz showcased the evolution of the opposition fighters who first rose against the regime six months ago, swiftly capturing the eastern part of the vast, oil-rich North African nation but failing to advance westward toward Tripoli even with the help of months of NATO airstrikes.
For months, the rebels — mainly civilian volunteers who took up arms and had little military training — were judged to be big on zeal but short on organization and discipline, but their stunning success in Tripoli showed a high level of planning, coordination and discipline.
The U.S. and other nations have recognized the National Transitional Council as Libya's legitimate government, but the rebel movement consists of Islamists as well as former government insiders and Western-leaning intellectuals, raising concern about whether the factions can unite in a post-Gadhafi Libya.
Abdel-Jalil sought to allay those worries at a news conference in the rebel capital of Benghazi, saying the opposition wanted a nation built on the principles of "freedom, equality and transparency."
In London, British Prime Minister David Cameron said frozen Libyan assets would soon be released to help the country's rebels establish order, saying Gadhafi's regime was "falling apart and in full retreat."
Rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Rahman, who was in Tripoli, warned of pockets of resistance and said as long as Gadhafi remains on the run the "danger is still there."
Clashes broke out early Monday at Gadhafi's longtime command center known as Bab al-Aziziya early Monday when government tanks emerged from the complex and opened fire at rebels trying to get in, according to Abdel-Rahman and a neighbor. An AP reporter at the nearby Rixos Hotel where foreign journalists stay heard gunfire and loud explosions from the direction of the complex.
Moammar al-Warfali, whose family home is next to the Gadhafi compound, said there appeared to be only a few tanks belonging to the remaining Gadhafi forces that have not fled or surrendered.
"When I climb the stairs and look at it from the roof, I see nothing at Bab al-Aziziya," he said. "NATO has demolished it all and nothing remains."
The Rixos hotel where foreign journalists are staying also remained under the control of Gadhafi forces, with two trucks loaded with anti-aircraft machine guns and pro-regime fighters and snipers posted behind trees. Rebels and Tripoli residents set up checkpoints elsewhere in the city.
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