Heavy gunfire and explosions have been reported in the Libyan capital, and according to rebel commanders, the firing signals the start of a final onslaught on Muammar Gadaffi’s stronghold.
Earlier NATO-backed rebels in Libya said that a battle for the capital Tripoli could unfold by the end of the month, as they had taken key cities around the Gaddafi stronghold. However, rounds have been fired close to a hotel where foreign journalists are staying on Saturday evening. Explosions were heard in the area as NATO aircraft carried out heavy bombing runs after nightfall, the Associated Press reported.
Rebels were reported to be fighting in the city’s Tajoura neighborhood, as well as near Tripoli’s international airport. There have been reports that fighting also broke out in the neighborhoods of Soug Jomaa and Arada in the east.
However, some eyewitnesses say this information is over-exaggerated.
Political analyst Mahdi Nazemroaya says that the gunfire in the Libyan capital is sporadic and disorganized, and that its main purpose is to break down the morale of the population.
“The main point of the attacks in Tripoli is to break down the morale here and cause panic. The media here at the hotel where I am staying has been part of this disinformation campaign,” he said. “They just want to feed the panic here and want the regime to collapse. They are fueling and feeding this psychological war against this country.”