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Libya, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Endgame in Tripoli?

Now see Monday's Libya LiveBlog: The Last Push Against Former Leader Qaddafi

View Free Tripoli - Red Rebel - Green Gaddafi in a larger map

Map of the reported fighting in the Libyan capital Tripoli

See also Saturday's Syria, Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Emergency Meetings

0451 GMT: James Miller is going to bed. Scott Lucas will be picking things up, with a brand new Live blog and a brand new URL. Check back between 0530 and 0600 GMT.

Al Jazeera has this update:

Senior Libyan rebel figure Mahmoud Jibril said early Monday there are still pockets of resistance in Tripoli from forces loyal to strongman Muammer Gaddafi, after rebels surged into the capital.

"I warn you, there are still pockets of resistance in and around Tripoli," Jibril said in a speech on the opposition television station al-Ahrar.

"You have to be aware that some pockets are coming from the east and you have to be cautious. The fight is not over yet. God willing, in a few hours our victory will be complete."

0341 GMT: Abdulhakim Balhaj, commander of the opposition's "Tripoli Brigade," says that Green Square, now called Martyr Square, is again occupied by the opposition, as is much of the city, and he still has troops positioned on the outskirts of the city to provide security.

0335 GMT: The BBC's Matthew Price reports from the Rixos hotel in Tripoli:

"The overall picture in Tripoli is patchy. There are certainly large areas, where the opposition is in control. But some areas are still under government control. However, one of the most vivid signs of the collapse of the Gaddafi regime is that government employees have been slowly leaving our hotel - the place from where Libya's state TV has been broadcasting."

0309 GMT: Conflicting reports are coming in about how secure Tripoli is at the current moment. the activists updating the map at the top of this blog has changed all of the green flags, signifying Qaddafi positions, to either red or yellow. On the other hand, CNN's reporters have pulled out of Tripoli, and CNN is showing images of an almost abandoned Green Square (renamed Martyr Square) as the majority of opposition fighters have pulled out of the square, and those who remain have set up defensive positions.

Many questions remains. Where are all the pro-Qaddafi forces? Have they abandoned their posts because they have no real loyalty? Did they withdraw to the Bab al-Azizia district, one of Qaddafi's only reported strongholds left? Is Qaddafi even in Tripoli?

Earlier, we received reports from the opposition that they are not pressing the fight against Bab al-Azizia because they do not believe Muammar Qaddafi is not in Tripoli.

The sun is up in a few hours. I suspect we'll know more then.

0303 GMT: Al Jazeera posts the video with Muhammed Qaddafi (with English translation), who came under attack during his interview. We have confirmed that Muhammed is safe, and is now under the protection of the National Transitional Council:

0119 GMT: Al Jazeera clarifies the situation with Mohammed Qaddafi:

In an interview with our sister channel Al Jazeera Arabic, the head of the Libyan opposition NTC said the Libyan leader's son, Mohammed Gaddafi refused to surrender, his guards shot at rebels. One rebel was killed and one bodyguard was injured.

Mohammed Gaddafi and his family are safe.

0100 GMT: The head of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, is reporting that Mohammed Qaddafi is safe.

When we get an English translation of the interview (see last two updates) we'll post it.

0058 GMT: Here is the video of the interview. The full interview with English translations will start soon, but the gunfire can clearly be heard and a very shaken Mohammed Qaddafi speaks after it appears to stop, but the call is disconnected.

We are still waiting for a rock-solid source that can confirm that Mohammed Qaddafi is not injured.

0046 GMT: According to people who heard the interview, Mohammad Qaddafi was speaking to Al Jazeera Arabic when gunfire and shouting broke out inside his home, where he is under house arrest after he willingly surrendered. He told AJA that he was "under attack," and that the gunfire was inside his home. The gunshots subsided, and Mohammed sounded as though he was in tears as he continued to speak but closed his phone call.

According to a caller for Al Jazeera, Mohammed Qaddafi is safe, though he only has three people guarding him.

0037 GMT: Scary moments on Al Jazeera. Mohammed Qaddafi, under house arrest, was speaking to Al Jazeera Arabic when screaming and gunshots rang out INSIDE his house. It is unclear what happened, we will keep you informed.

0030 GMT: Libyan opposition forces are now in control of Tripoli's airport and the highway to Tunisia.

0025 GMT: The central square in Benghazi right now:

0019 GMT: Martyrdom is a theme for the Libyan people. Green Square, the central square in Tripoli, has been renamed "Martyr Square."00:15 GMT: The celebratory mood in Benghazi has shifted. The ICC has requested that Saif al Islam, the son of Muammar Qaddafi who has been the mouthpiece for the regime since the birth of Arab Spring, be turned over to the ICC for trial. They have begun to chant "the blood of the martyrs will not be spilled in vain.

Dateline - Sunday, August 21 below, Monday August 22 above.

2400 GMT: Al Jazeera is now showing live video from Green Square, where opposition fighters are celebrating, removing all the green (Qaddafi's color) and shooting at his pictures.

2321 GMT: Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr is also in Tripoli, 1 kilometer from Green Square, but she is reporting that she cannot get any closer because of clashes and snipers.

"There are a lot of snipers in the area... the are other areas in the capital under rebel control... lots of celebratory gunfire."

2315 GMT: Though there are reports of gunfire in Green Square, it appears to be largely celebratory. Qaddafi's posted are being removed, and people are celebrating in the center of the city.

Al Jazeera continues to report that gunfire has been heard near Qaddafi's Bab al-Azizia compound.

2311 GMT: Sky News is confirming that an opposition convoy has reached Green Square, in the center of Tripoli.

2307 GMT: CNN's Matthew Chance reports from the Rixos hotel in Tripoli:

"We are at a dangerous point. Minders vanished from hotel, few gunmen on perimeter."

2303 GMT: As we suspected, the ICC blew that story. However, the ICC IS confirming that Saif al Islam has been arrested.

2259 GMT: The rumor mill - Twitter is abuzz with news that Colonel Qaddafi has been captured. That news allegedly broke via Al Arabiya. The report allegedly came from the International Criminal Court. We doubt the reports, but will monitor.

2249 GMT: Matthew Price, a BBC reporter in the Rixos hotel, Tripoli, says that his sector of Tripoli remains under government control. In his latest update, he claims that the momentum is clearly with the opposition, but Qaddafi's forces have not lost the entire city.

2244 GMT: This video is Al Jazeera's coverage of Qaddafi's second speech. Qaddafi has made many speeches today, via "phone." Many of his speeches may have been rebroadcasts, and many of them have been cut short by technical difficulties. Al JAzeera has spoken to experts who believe that these calls have been made via satellite phone, and even members of the National Transitional Council have expressed doubt that Qaddafi is still in Libya.

2238 GMT: An opposition fighter calls Al Jazeera from inside Mohammed Qaddafi's house, where he has been captured:

2230 GMT: The National Transitional Council has confirmed the capture of two Qaddafi sons, Mohammed and Saif, and there are reports that Saadi has also been captured. We have confirmed and unconfirmed reports of many high-ranking officials and commanders who have been captured or killed.

Al Jazeera is now claiming that this rapid change of events is the result of a coordinated special forces attack, possibly launched by sea from Misurata, an attempt to take Tripoli from the inside and the outside, and destabilize the Qaddafi regime. There are also suspicions that NATO helped coordinate these attacks.

2227 GMT: Al Jazeera is reporting that two South African planes have landed in Tripoli, perhaps in order to evacuate Qaddafi or his family. We need to stress that a similar report circulated 2 days ago.

2224 GMT: NATO has released a statement on the situation in Tripoli:

"The Qadhafi regime is clearly crumbling. The sooner Qadhafi realises that he cannot win the battle against his own people, the better -- so that the Libyan people can be spared further bloodshed and suffering.

The Libyan people have suffered tremendously under Qaddafi’s rule for over four decades. Now they have a chance for a new beginning. Now is the time for all threats against civilians to stop, as the United Nations Security Council demanded. Now is the time to create a new Libya – a state based on freedom, not fear; democracy, not dictatorship; the will of the many, not the whims of a few.

That transition must come peacefully. It must come now. And it must be led and defined by the Libyan people.

NATO is ready to work with the Libyan people and with the Transitional National Council, which holds a great responsibility. They must make sure that the transition is smooth and inclusive, that the country stays united, and that the future is founded on reconciliation and respect for human rights.

Qadhafi's remaining allies and forces also have a great responsibility. It is time to end their careers of violence. The world is watching them. This is their opportunity to side with the Libyan people and choose the right side of history.

We will continue to monitor military units and key facilities, as we have since March, and when we see any threatening moves towards the Libyan people, we will act in accordance with our UN mandate.

Our goal throughout this conflict has been to protect the people of Libya, and that is what we are doing.

Because the future of Libya belongs to the Libyan people. And it is for the international community to assist them, with the United Nations and the Contact Group playing a leading role. NATO wants the Libyan people to be able to decide their future in freedom and in peace. Today, they can start building that future."

2216 GMT: Two more very short audio message from Qaddafi. He is repeating himself now, calling on specific tribes to join him, and specific towns to send fighters to Tripoli. He is repeating that the Libyan people will be turned into slaves, and British imperialism will be renewed.

2211 GMT: Sky News is reporting that there is now a major opposition convoy within 1 kilometer from Green Square.

This is the most significant news, in our opinion, that we have received tonight. Green Square is in the center of Tripoli, and if a major military convoy has arrived, then Tripoli really has been overrun by opposition fighters.

2200 GMT: Some quotes from Qaddafi's speech:

"Some armed gangs hiding in the streets, especially in Tajura...

"They have come, they have occupied Tripoli. How can you allow the colonialists to occupy Tripoli again, this is unacceptable!

"Get out of your homes, protect Tripoli now! This is a life or death matter!

"Tripoli has become like Baghdad, it is now being destroyed, it must end now, it must not happen, go out and fight them."

2155 GMT: An eyewitness for Al Jazeera, with the opposition fighters, has said that Tripoli's Green Square has not been taken by opposition fighters, and residents fear remote bombings or chemical weapons in the square.

2151 GMT: Qaddafi is now claiming that "they" want to destroy Tripoli, and has asked for the Immams of the mosques to lead the people, with their weapons, against the opposition that is working for the imperialists.

The audio keeps cutting out.

2148 GMT: Qaddafi, on State TV, is calling for all cities and tribes to come to Tripoli in order to avoid becoming slaves.

2144 GMT: Tripoli Timmy was just on Libyan State TV, and Qaddafi is on now.

2141 GMT: Al Arabiya has two important updates. First, they are reporting that Qaddafi's eldest son Mohammed has been captured. Secondly, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the head of the NTC, is claiming that he has been in touch with the head of the Gaddafi personal security battalion for two months.

2130 GMT: Moussa Ibrahim, whom Scott and I have officially named "Tripoli Timmy," has said the best statement yet: the regime has whole cities on their side and they are coming en masse to Qaddafi out.

2124 GMT: Qaddafi spokesman Mousa Ibrahim has said that 1300 people have been killed in Tripoli so far. He has blameed NATO, and has called for a cease-fire.

2119 GMT: Here is a short highlight reel of Syria's President Bashar al Assad's interview on Syrian State TV earlier today:

2115 GMT: Despite claims that Libya State TV is down, journalist Mohamed Madi says that the station is up:

"Libyan state TV is broadcasting a pre-recorded chat show about different diseases"

2111 GMT: Qaddafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim has told CNN reports that any talk of Presidential Guard units surrendering is "complete rubbish."

2106 GMT: Mustafa Abdul Jalil, appearing on Al Jazeera, has also said that he has no confirmation that Saadi Qaddafi, the third son, has been captured.

2100 GMT: Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the head of the NTC, has just confirmed the arrest of Qaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam.

2056 GMT: Libya State TV as of 2052 GMT:

2053 GMT: Breaking news via Al Jazeera - Mohamad Senussi, a brigade commander and the son of Abdullah Senussii, head of intellegence, has been killed.

2052 GMT: This report via Al Arabiya: "Reports that the revolutionaries have captured Saif Al Islam in Al Seyahiya district of Tripoli & are filming him to show on TV."

2042 GMT: James Miller taking over the liveblog and has some major news.

Al Jazeera Arabic is reporting that Qaddafi's bodyguards have surrendered.

2026 GMT: The hot rumour --- the Libyan opposition National Transitional Council is claiming the capture of Muammar Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam in the Rixos Hotel and will soon make a formal announcement.

Al Jazeera is now claiming that its sources confirm the arrest "in a resort in Tripoli".

2016 GMT: An Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent claims insurgents have reached the Green Square in the center of Tripoli.

2010 GMT: Alex Crawford of Sky News, now about 8 kilometres (5 miles) from the centre of Tripoli, "People are kissing rebels in the streets. They feel they have been liberated tonight".

2000 GMT: Libyan insurgents have announced that they have taken full control of the Mitiga air base, east of Tripoli.

1940 GMT: Libyan State TV has claimed, "The Brother Leader of the Revolution [Muammar Qaddafi] has just gone for a stroll in the Green Square and other Tripoli streets."

1937 GMT: AFP is reporting that the management and Swiss manager of the Rixos Hotel, the home of the international press corps, have left the building, saying staff had been warned it could be attacked.

1927 GMT: A response to President Assad's interview and talk of "dialogue" from people in the Kisweh section of Damascus:

A crowd in Kafranbel in the northwest show the President their shoes:

And Baba Amro in Homs:

1917 GMT: Alex Crawford of Sky News, with opposition fighters, says she is 10 kilometres from the centre of Tripoli: "Gaddafi forces put these huge boulders to block the road, it seems. We are driving right past them."

Crawford says, "There is no support for Colonel Qaddafim at least in the places we're driving through right now. No supporters."

AFP and the BBC's Matthew Price report heavy clashes near the Rixos Hotel, where the international press are housed.

1915 GMT: Claimed video of the moment that opposition fighters entered Tripoli today:

1837 GMT: And now President Assad turns to the foreign dimension: "The West don't want us to reform. Reform to these colonialist Western countries is to give them everything they want....The West want a person who will tell them, 'I'll let you do everything, I'll just stand here and watch.'....'Human rights' is a fake principle to the West."

On the prospect of action by the United Nations Security Council, Assad says this "will have huge consequences that we can never tolerate".

In an apparent reference to Turkey, Assad says, "We take advice and accept some lessons" but "mo one is allowed to interfere in Syria's decisions".

1835 GMT: President Assad combines a concession of responsibility with a get-tough posture:

A limited number of officials have been held accountable. Anyone who commits a crime will be held accountable.

Everyone who is judged and proven to have made a mistake towards the Syrian people during this crisis, will be brought to justice. The justice of blood is not just justice of the family, but justice for the whole country.

He says, "We have a judicial committee that has full authority to investigate these cases."

1832 GMT: Syrian President Assad is making a play for support of minorities. He asserts that Kurds are "nationalistic" but warns that "some parties tried to use" the naturalisation of Kurds for political gain". He continues, "Any citizens in our country should not be looked at as guests or immigrants."

In short, "The Syrian people are educated and modern people with our Kurdish brothers and sisters."

1830 GMT: Meanwhile, in Syria, President Assad is giving a highly-anticipated interview on State TV. He admits unrest has become more militant in recent weeks but he is "not worried".

Assad focuses initially on what one listener calls the "technical prattle about processes of so-called reform". He says amending Article 8 of the Constitution --- which guarantees his Ba'ath Party as the leadership of Syria --- is "illogical", as the entire constitution must be revised. He promises that, by Thursday, the regime will announce the committee tasked with reviewing new applications for political parties.

Assad says the committee reviewing the constitution will take three to six months, after which Parliamentary elections will be held.

1825 GMT: Catching up with developments in Libya....

Al Jazeera says that opposition fighters have entered the house of Muammar Qaddafi's daughter Aisha in the Bin Ashour section of Tripoli, but defiant --- and armed --- loyalists have raised the green flag of the Qaddafi regime in the lobby of the Rixos Hotel.

Sky News's Alex Crawford, with opposition fighters, says they are a kilometre and Tripoli and have "met no resistance so far".

1740 GMT: Back from a break to find this photo, of Sky News's Alex Crawford, confirming that the the base of the elite 32nd Brigade --- commanded by Muammar Qaddafi's son Khamis --- has fallen to the insurgents:

Associated Press reporters with the insurgents said they reached the western suburb of Janzour around nightfall. They were greeted by civilians lining the streets and waving rebel flags.

1630 GMT: In an audio statement broadcast on State TV, Muammar Gaddafi has called on the Libyan people to come from all regions to liberate Tripoli from the insurgents. He says he is afraid "Tripoli will burn".

1615 GMT: Reuters reports from an activist that opposition fighters are in a fierce gun battle with regime forces inside the Mitiga airbase in Tripoli's Tajoura district.

CNN's Matthew Chance reports that most regime officials have evacuated the Rixos Hotel, the base of the international media. Gunfire is reported nearby.

1555 GMT: Claimed footage of a demonstration in front of the UN Mission in Douma outside the Syrian capital Damascus:

And Hama:

And Homs:

And a protest in Zabadani near Damascus:

1550 GMT: AFP and Associated Press are both reporting that insurgents have captured a military installation on the outskirts of Tripoli, taking significant quantities of weapons.

AFP initially called the installation a "barracks", but AP says it is the base of the elite 32nd Brigade, 16 miles west of the capital. The brigade is commanded by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's son Khamis.

1540 GMT: Bahraini authorities have released the country’s top nursing official, Rola al-Safar, and teachers’ union official Jalila al-Salman after the head of an international panel, investigating the events of the uprising from February, met them in prison.

Al-Safar, detained in March, is among almost 50 doctors and nurses facing charges linked to the demonstrations against the regime. At least 19 medical personnel remain in custody.

1535 GMT: Twitter and the international media are buzzing with the news, tipped off by a video on EA more than seven hours ago (0805 GMT), that "freedom fighters" landed by sea for the offensive on Tripoli.

1345 GMT: A contrasting report from Russia Today which claims that reports of unrest in Tripoli are part of a "massive psychological plan" to destabilise the Qaddafi regime --- since NATO has failed to bomb it into submission --- and that all is relatively quiet in the capital.

The correspondent continues that the opposition is using snipers in Tripoli to terrify the population. She says the only obstacle to a negotiated solution is the US-led foreign intervention, which has killed "thousands" of civilians in an attempt to save face because of American troubles in Afghanistan.

1245 GMT: Al Jazeera English's interview with Zeina Khodr, travelling with insurgents, who has reported the fall of three neighbourhoods of Tripoli to the opposition.

1225 GMT: Back from a break to find that Libyan regime spokesman Moussa Ibrahim has said "thousands" of soldiers are prepared to defend Tripoli against insurgents who want "bloody" revenge.

Snippets from the lengthy speech: "We have honour. Giving up means gangs will have the country: killing, killing, killing....The world has a short memory. The west needs to restore its morality. With the cover of NATO even cowards can march forward."

1105 GMT: Reuters reports that 31 regime troops have been killed and 42 captured in fighting in Tripoli.

1100 GMT: Al Jazeera English's Zeina Khodr has been reporting that insurgents are in control of the Tripoli neighbourhoods of Fashloum, Zawiyat Dahmani, and Mansoura.

However, according to Alex Crawford of Britain's Sky News,about 70 vehicles have returned to al-Mayah after reaching the western gate of Tripoli.

1020 GMT: The opposition advance towards Tripoli from the west continues. Alex Crawford of Britain's Sky News has reported live from Jaddaim, several kilometres east of Zawiya, which was claimed on Friday.

Crawford is now saying that the insurgents are in al-Mayah, 10 kilometres further along the road and about 30 kilometres (19 miles) west of the capital.

0845 GMT: A Tripoli resident describes a firefight this morning near Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's compound Bab al-Aziziya in Tripoli.

The resident, "Taher", said heavy machine guns and mortars have been heard. He said he and his neighbours went out last night and blocked the roads in the area, armed with AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

"Taher" said, "We are regular people" but "we are in a war. This is a war."

0840 GMT: Police in the Egyptian capital have arrested a man who allegedly "insulted Islam" in postings on Facebook, State news agency MENA reported on Saturday.

MENA said the 23-year-old, identified as "Ayman Y.M.", posted comments "that were insulting to the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed and Islam and Muslims". No further details were given.

0830 GMT: Al Jazeera English has just reported that 450 detainees, held in a prison on a military base, have been freed by residents of the Tajoura section of Tripoli.

0805 GMT: Video of opposition fighters arriving by sea for the offensive to take Tripoli:

0630 GMT: In Syria, President Bashar Assad will try to re-assert his authority today with a nationally-televised interview. Meanwhile, overnight demonstrations maintained the challenge to his regime. In Homs, where eight people were injured earlier in the day by military operations:

And in Damascus:

0620 GMT: Matthew Price, a BBC correspondent in Tripoli, wrote about an hour ago --- Libya is two hours ahead of GMT --- "Waking up to loud explosions and gunfire in #Tripoli Can't see from here much of the skyline. Will try to get better view."

0615 GMT: In March, only a few weeks after the sudden start of the uprising against the Qaddafi regime in Libya, I rather rashly titled a LiveBlog, "Endgame in Libya?"

That projection stalled as Libya effectively split in two, with the opposition controlled the eastern part of the country and setting up its base in the second-largest city, Benghazi. The military situation fluctuated, with Qaddafi forces taking back town seized by the insurgents.

In recent weeks, however, both James Miller and I had been watching the gradual but clear advance of opposition fighters on three fronts towards the capital. Friday's takeover of Zawiya, 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Tripoli, was a significant symbolic as well as military breakthrough --- the town had been taken weeks into the uprising by insurgents but then had been re-occupied after bloody fighting by Qaddafi's men. Zlitan, 60 kilometres (37 miles) east of the capital and the only major town between Tripoli and opposition-held Misurata, was "liberated" for the first time by the insurgents.

So the stage was being set for a final battle for the capital. Still, we did not expect events to occur so quickly. Last night, in what appears to be a rising by local residents anticipating an opposition advance, fighting broke out in several Tripoli neighbourhoods --- Souq al-Jomaa, Tajoura, Fashloum, Fournaj, Sabah, Ghoud al-Shayal, Hanshir, and Dahra.

In a live audio statement broadcast on State TV early this morning, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi congratulated supporters and accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy of trying to steal the country's oil. He urged his followers to "march by the millions" to end the "masquerade" by an opposition "bent on the destruction of the Libyan people".

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