Gaddafi’s son Khamis is leading loyalist forces towards central Tripoli in a government counter-offensive against rebel forces that have been already celebrating an easy victory over Colonel Gaddafi.
Early on Monday morning, tanks rolled out of Muammar Gaddafi’s Tripoli residence and began shelling the rebels who had gathered near the compound as sustained heavy gunfire was heard in the Libyan capital.
The tanks are being supported by pick-up trucks with heavy machineguns mounted on them, used by government forces to suppress rebel fire on Assarin Street and in al-Khalifa area.
More government tanks have been reported in the port of Tripoli.
Muammar Gaddafi’s whereabouts remain unknown.
It is possible that Libyan leader might still be in his compound in Bab al-Aziziya as he earlier promised not to leave the capital. However, Al Arabiya TV channel reports that Muammar Gaddafi is now in a hospital in the town of Tajura.
According to Libyan government representative Musa Ibrahim, there are 65,000 troops protecting the ruling regime. Earlier the rebels claimed that some of the troops had surrendered to them – a remarkable statement, in view of the numerous reports about rebels torturing, beheading and murdering prisoners of war.
Earlier reports that the rebels had taken control of the country’s state television complex turned out to be false, with the national TV channel continuing to broadcast songs in support of Muammar Gaddafi.
Rebels now admit that from 15 to 20 per cent of Tripoli remains under the control of loyalist troops, contradicting earlier claims that the city was practically under their full control, with the exception of government buildings.
On Sunday night, the rebels advanced through the Libyan capital from three directions – east, south and west – without meeting any significant resistance from the loyalist troops until arriving to the city’s Green Square where they rallied, renaming the area Martyrs’ Square.
A convoy of 22 military vehicles full of government soldiers have arrived in the center and are erecting a barricade near a hotel where Dr. Franklin Lamb, the director of Americans for Middle East Peace, is staying right now.
“I have a feeling that the government is luring the rebels in, allowing them to have fun on Green Square and then very well counter-attacking them,” Dr Lamb told RT, adding that it looks like the end is near.
Western leaders rushed to congratulate the Libyan people on their victory and urged Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to quit power peacefully.
“Tonight, the momentum against the Gaddafi regime has reached a tipping point. Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant,” announced US President Barack Obama.
British PM David Cameron promised that “the end is near for Gaddafi”.
Meanwhile, the rebels have warned of intelligence reports indicating that troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi are advancing towards the center of the Libyan capital.
The situation in Tripoli is chaotic, with few precise details emerging of developments in the capital.