Rebels say all of Tripoli is under their control, except for Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziyah compound. They also claim to have taken control of the state TV building.
Eyewitnesses are tweeting that an “Independence” flag has been raised on Abdel Ghani mosque.
Some estimates put the death toll from this weekend alone at more than 1,300 people, with around 5,000 injured.
Three of Gaddafi’s sons have reportedly been captured by the rebels. According to the Libyan leader’s spokesman, Gaddafi is prepared to negotiate directly with the head of the rebel transitional council, but says the rebels are not ready to listen.
The International Criminal Court says it can confirm that Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam has been arrested.
Earlier on Sunday Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the Libyan leader’s son and a well-known face in the West, has been captured, the head of Libyan rebel national transitional council told the Al Jazeera television network.
Afterward came reports of Saadi Gaddafi being captured in Tripoli and Mohammed Gaddafi surrendering to the rebels
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the Libyan leader’s son
Gaddafi calls on Libyans to fight “traitors”
According to recent reports, rebel forces entered the city center and claimed that Gaddafi’s presidential guard had surrendered.
A pitched battle is raging in Libya, with multiple reports of fierce clashes around and inside Tripoli and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi asking Libyans to take up arms against the rebels. He reportedly called on Libya’s tribes to come to the defense of Tripoli and “cleanse” the capital of rebel forces.
A rebel sprays graffiti depicting Col. Muammar Gaddafi on a wall in Gadayem, west of the capital Tripoli, on August 21, 2011 (AFP Photo / Filippo Monteforte)
Earlier, Gaddafi said he will stay in Tripoli “until the end” and called on his supporters around the country to help liberate the capital from a rebel offensive, Reuters quoted the Libya strongman as saying, citing state television.
In a broadcasted audio message, Gaddafi said he was “afraid that Tripoli will burn” and that he would provide weapons to supporters to fight off the rebels.
The country’s major military base is now thought to be in rebel hands, strengthening their chances of outright victory. It is also believed that after major clashes the rebels captured Tripoli’s Mitiga airbase.
Opposition forces also claim to have freed prisoners locked up during the uprising against Gaddafi’s regime.
US declares Gaddafi’s rule is coming to an end
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has released a statement on the situation in Tripoli – saying the Libyan people should be spared further bloodshed.
A key player in the military campaign against the Libyan regime, Washington, claimed the rule of Muammar Gaddafi is coming to an end. The US is reported to be in close contact with rebel leaders and is monitoring the situation on the ground.
“If Gaddafi cared about the welfare of the Libyan people, he would step down now,” the US State Department declared on Sunday night.
The State Department encouraged the National Transitional Council, the rebels’ provisional body, to start planning for a “post-Gaddafi Libya.”
The UK government has called on Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to step down to save his people from further suffering.
“It is clear from the scenes we are witnessing in Tripoli that the end is near for Gaddafi,” read a statement from Downing Street. “He has committed appalling crimes against the people of Libya and he must go now to avoid any further suffering for his own people.”
Earlier on Friday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the newly appointed Libyan charge d’affaires to Downing Street, where he underlined his “optimism” for Libya’s democratic future.
Meanwhile, President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his full support for the rebels battling Muammar Gaddafi’s troops in and around the Libyan capital.
“At the moment when decisive events are taking place in the Tripoli region, in Tripoli itself, and elsewhere in Libya, the president salutes the courage of the rebel fighters and of the Libyan people who are rising up,” Sarkozy’s office stated on Sunday night, as quoted by the Reuters news agency.
Sarkozy reiterated that France is backing the National Transitional Council, the “legitimate Libyan authorities.” He also called on Gaddafi to immediately give up power and order his forces to cease fire.
“I feel that my life is in danger right now”
Journalist Mahdi Nazemroaya is in the central Tripoli hotel where much of the international press has been housed. He told RT the situation on the ground is very dangerous, and that the hotel is surrounded by rebel gunmen.
Nazemroaya said that children are defending Gaddafi against NATO’s onslaught, and that the rebel forces have no respect for the international media.
“This war is not about Colonel Gaddafi, Colonel Gaddafi is just a pretext for this war,” he claimed. “This war has [everything] to do with stealing money from the Libyan people. There is shock, there is fear, there is denial, and then there is resistance. And many of [the defenders of Tripoli] are children. It hurts me to say this, but I’ve seen young men picking up guns to defend this country.”
According to Nazemroaya, international journalists are being targeted by the rebels and the NATO forces that support them.
“They are specifically targeting the areas where international journalists are, to sow panic here,” he argued. “NATO has done all the heavy work. This is a NATO war. They heavily bombed cities west of [Tripoli], they’ve bombed all night, without even 10 seconds of stopping. They have bombed this entire city and NATO landed the insurgents on the coast of Tripoli.”
“They have no respect for the international press,” Nazemroaya declared. “I was putting up a sign on top of the hotel – I took the initiative to do that and write “Press” [on the sign] – and a sniper shot at me.”
Nazemroaya also says that an unconfirmed source told him that people are gathering on Green Square in the center of the capital and are ready to defend their city.
“They’ve got arms and they are ready to fight,” he said.
Independent journalist Lizzie Phelan, speaking from Tripoli, described the situation in the Libyan capital as “grave and crucial.”
“Here in Tripoli, NATO bombs, as [Gaddafi’s regime spokesman] Ibrahim Moussa has said, ‘anything that moves,’” Phelan told RT. “The time is well overdue for a cease-fire and negotiations.”
Political scientist Michael Parenti, based in Berkeley, California, says protecting civilians was just a pretext for NATO to step into Libya, topple Gaddafi and redirect the country’s economy.
“In fact, the same thing happened in Yugoslavia and in Eastern Europe,” he said, “There will be a massive privatization taking place, the public economy that the Gaddafi government had built over 40 years, which included public subsidies for housing, for education, for healthcare – all those things will be privatized. The oil fields will be handed over to private companies for private profit.”