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Libya, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Closing In on Qaddafi's Hometown

See also Syria Document: New Leader of the Opposition Ghalioun "We Must Act Swiftly and Decisively"

Full Text of Leaked UN Document on Post-Gaddafi Libya

2018 GMT: Al Arabiya, Sky News, and our earlier report seem to be all leaning on a single source that Khamis Qaddafi has been killed. Andy Carvin asks, and we echo, where is the body? Why the rush to bury him? Are there pictures? Video? DNA samples?

The outside world has been burned by these sorts of reports before. During the fall of Tripoli, there were multiple reports, from sources inside the NTC, that many of Qaddafi's sons were detained. Those reports turned out to be false, and the only reliable report, that Mohammed Qaddafi was captured, was undone by his escape.

So far, we remain skeptical.

1911 GMT: Al Jazeera provides us this update, details on the claimed killing of Qaddafi's son and military commander, Khamis Qaddafi:

Khamis Gaddafi, Muammar Gaddafi's son, was killed in a battle between Tarhoni and Bin Walid on Sunday, according to a rebel commander in Tripoli who spoke to Al Arabiya.

Senior rebel officer, Colonel Al-Mahdi Al-Haragi, in charge of the Tripoli Brigade of the rebel army, told the Reuters news agency he had confirmation that Khamis was badly wounded in the clash near Ben Walid and Tarhoni.

He was taken to a hospital but died of his wounds and was buried in the area, Al-Haragi told Reuters, without giving the timing.

No independent confirmation of the death was available.

1900 GMT: A very safe, very dry James Miller finally has internet access, and so is able to update the readers on two major developments in Libya...

The first development is that Algerian Foreign Minister is claiming that Muammar Qaddafi's wife, daughter, two of his sons, and their children have crossed over the border into Algeria:

The Egyptian news agency MENA, quoting unidentified rebel fighters, had reported from Tripoli over the weekend that six armored Mercedes sedans, possibly carrying Gadhafi's sons or other top regime figures, had crossed the border at the southwestern Libyan town of Ghadamis into Algeria. Algeria's Foreign Ministry had denied that report.

Ahmed Jibril, an aide to rebel National Transitional Council head Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, said if the report of Ghadafi relatives in Algeria is true, "we will demand that Algerian authorities hand them over to Libya to be tried before Libyan courts."

The second juicy piece of news is that an opposition fighter commander in Tripoli has told Sky News that Muammar Qaddafi's son, Khamis, has been killed. That is a developing story.

1859 GMT: A beach-side residence in Tripoli, owned by the Gadhafi family, is being used by the opposition fighters who fought in the Zawiya campaign.

1845 GMT: Khamis Gaddafi, Muammer Gaddafi's son, is claimed to be killed by the opposition forces.

Sky's chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay, who is at the scene, said a man claiming to be Khamis' bodyguard confirmed that he had died in the vehicle.

1840 GMT: A video footage showing Syrians marching in Deraa today.

1835 GMT: In the clashes that took place between the Yemeni government and al-Qaeda militants, near the city of Dufas in the southern province of Abyan, 10 soldiers and 26 militants were killed, according to military sources. Another 38 militants and about 30 soldiers were wounded in the clashes. 

1820 GMT: According to an Algerian official who spoke to the AFP, Gaddafi's second wife Safia, his sons Muhmmad and Hannibal, and his daughter Ayesha are in Algeria now. 

1800 GMT: According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the death toll in the Sarmin district of northwestern Idlib province increased to five, including a child. The number of wounded increased to 60. Considered with one person killed in the town of Qara outside Damascus, the total number of dead people is six!

1745 GMT: Having found out around 150 dead bodies in a warehouse used by the Khamis Brigade, the  International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he may also apply for an arrest warrant for Gaddafi's son Khamis.

As known, the ICC has already approved warrants for the arrest of Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity.

1700 GMT: Egyptian border guards seized a "large quantity" of weapons at the border with Libya. 

1630 GMT: While the opposition forces are attacking to the coastal city of Sirte from both rebel-held Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad in the east, and from Tripoli and Misrata to the west, Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel Hamid reports from Nawfaliya:

We have been standing here at Nawfaliya junction for the past few hours.. from what we understand, now Nawfaliya is totally under control of the Libyan fighters. They say the Gaddafi fighters are not there anymore..

The fighters are gathering here, this is the main road that leads to Sirte, about 130km from here. They are trying to stay a bit back because we have heard a lot of NATO activity over the last few hours. We have heard some jets as well as some strikes. NATO has been intensifying its heat in and around Sirte over the last 48 hours..

1525 GMT: Is ice being broken between the Libyan opposition and the Algerian government? Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci held talks with Mahmoud Jibril, the head of the NTC's rebel executive committee, on the sidelines of an Arab League meeting in Cairo, according to Algeria's stateAPS agency.

1500 GMT: Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from Yarmouk base used by the Khamis brigade. 

1425 GMT: The Local Coordinating Committees published its statement on the issue of "taking up arms or international military intervention" and decided that it is "unacceptable politically, nationally, and ethically." The statement reads:

In an unprecedented move over the past several days, Syrians in Syria and abroad have been calling for Syrians to take up arms, or for international military intervention. This call comes five and a half months of the Syrian regime’s systematic abuse of the Syrian people, whereby tens of thousands of peaceful protesters have been detained and tortured, and more than 2,500 killed. The regime has given every indication that it will continue its brutal approach, while the majority of Syrians feel they are unprotected in their own homeland in the face of the regime’s crimes.

While we understand the motivation to take up arms or call for military intervention, we specifically reject this position as we find it unacceptable politically, nationally, and ethically. Militarizing the revolution would minimize popular support and participation in the revolution. Moreover, militarization would undermine the gravity of the humanitarian catastrophe involved in a confrontation with the regime.

Militarization would put the Revolution in an arena where the regime has a distinct advantage, and would erode the moral superiority that has characterized the Revolution since its beginning.

Our Palestinian brothers are experienced in leading by example. They gained the support of the entire Palestinian community, as well as world sympathy, during the first Intifada (“stones”). The second Intifada, which was militarized, lost public sympathy and participation. It is important to note that the Syrian regime and Israeli enemy used identical measures in the face of the two uprisings.

The objective of Syria's Revolution is not limited to overthrowing the regime. The Revolution also seeks to build a democratic system and national infrastructure that safeguards the freedom and dignity of the Syrian people. Moreover, the Revolution is intended to ensure independence and unity of Syria, its people, and its society.

We believe that the overthrow of the regime is the initial goal of the Revolution, but it is not an end in itself. The end goal is freedom for Syria and all Syrians. The method by which the regime is overthrown is an indication of what Syria will be like post-regime. If we maintain our peaceful demonstrations, which include our cities, towns, and villages; and our men, women, and children, the possibility of democracy in our country is much greater. If an armed confrontation or international military intervention becomes a reality, it will be virtually impossible to establish a legitimate foundation for a proud future Syria.

We call on our people to remain patient as we continue our national Revolution. We will hold the regime fully responsible and accountable for the current situation in the country, the blood of all martyrs – civilian and military, and any risks that may threaten Syria in the future, including the possibility of internal violence or foreign military intervention.

To the victory of our Revolution and to the glory of our martyrs.

1355 GMT: France reopened its embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli after six months.

1235 GMT: Syrian soldiers are saying they have sided with the anti-government protesters.

1220 GMT: At least one person has been killed and more than 20 wounded during  raids in Sarameen, in Idlib province, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and the Local Co-ordination Committes.

However, activists claimed that two were killed in the Sarameen district in the northwest province of Idlib and another was killed in the town of Qara outside Damascus during an arrest operation. So, the alleged death toll is three now!

1200 GMT: Despite NATO's "mission complete" statement, Liam Fox, the British Defense Minister said:

As soon as they [civilians] are no longer threatened by remnants of the Gaddafi regime the NATO mission will be over. The easiest way for it to end is for Gaddafi's men to lay down arms. The regime needs to recognise that they need to work with the NTC. 

National Transitional Council head Mustafa Abdul-Jalil had something to add: "Gaddafi is still capable is doing something awful in the last moments."

1135 GMT: Human Rights Watch said that detainees in a warehouse near Tripoli were executed by members of the Khamis Brigade, a powerful Gaddafi military force run by Muammar Gaddafi’s son Khamis, on August 23. Within three days the same warehouse was set on fire but the cause is unknown, according to the organisation. A survivor said that 153 names were read out on the day of the killings. 

1130: See the leaked UN report on post-Gaddafi Libya calling for the deployment of military observers and police force for the transition period for elections. 

1125 GMT: Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC), said: "Had NATO not supported Libya there would have been a major massacre." Meanwhile, NATO representatives said their "mission is incomplete."

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has indicated the regime will dismiss charges against some pro-reform protesters.

The remark was made in an address on Sunday for the imminent end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The king said, "There are those who are charged with abusing us and senior officials in Bahrain, we today announce that we forgive them. Although I do not like to interfere in the course of justice, I would like to confirm that all the cases of civilians will have their verdicts issued by a civil court."

King Hamad also said that he had given orders to solve the problem of employees and students who were dismissed: "When we see workers at their work places and students at their learning institutions, while some other workers are not working and other students are not studying, we are prompted to look into their situation in order to help them join their colleagues and classmates."

And the monarch urged those who had been mistreated in custody since the beginning of February's uprising to file a complaint, saying that the law allows compensation for them.

King Hamad asserted, "The recent period was painful to all of us. Although we live in one country, some have forgotten the inevitability of co-existence. Therefore, we should not abandon our belief in having the same and common future, and should not lose trust in each other as brothers, colleagues and citizens."

A military spokesman said insurgents have freed more than 10,000 detainees since entering Tripoli last week. Ahmed Bani added, however, that the whereabouts of about 50,000 people are unknown.

There have been protests in Misurata, Libya's third-largest city, against the reported decision of the National Transitional Council to appoint a former official of the Qaddafi regime as the head of security for the capital Tripoli.

After reports claimed the NTC Prime Minister, Mahmoud Jibril, would appoint Albarrani Shkal, a former army general, about 500 demonstrators gathered in Misurata's Martyrs Square, shouting that the "blood of the martyrs" would be betrayed by the appointment.

Misurata's ruling council lodged a formal protest with the NTC and warned that, if the appointment were confirmed, Misuratan units on security duties in Tripoli would refuse to follow NTC orders.

Many Misurata residents blame Shkal for commanding units that besieged the city during the spring, killing hundreds of civilians.

NTC sources say Shkal became an informer for the opposition in May, passing valuable information back to the opposition base in Benghazi, Libya's second city.

The Syrian opposition has named a 94-member Transitional National Council, chaired by Burhan Ghoulian, a Syrian-French professor at the Sorbonne in Paris.

In a separate entry, we feature Ghoulian's call at the end of the May for co-ordinated and sustained action against the Assad regime.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims Syrian troops in tanks and personnel carriers moved this morning into the village of Hit, two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the border with Lebanon, with heavy gunfire heard since 9 a.m. local time (0600 GMT).

Cameraman wanders down the maze of tunnels underneath former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's compound, gets lost:

Rudaw reports that Kurdish parties largely boycotted a conference in Istanbul last week amongst the Syrian opposition.

Barzan Bahram, a Syrian Kurdish writer, accused the Muslim Brotherhood of trying to control plans for Syria’s future, "The Muslim Brotherhood is trying to exploit the change that is about to take place in Syria for their own gain. And the Turkish government is throwing its full support behind the Islamic groups to bring them to the forefront."

Bahram continued, "Any Syrian opposition conference will not succeed without an active participation of the Kurds. Also the opposition must take into consideration the location of the conferences."

Shelal Gado, a leader in the leftist Kurdish Party of Syria, said that some Kurds may have attended the conference but contended that they did not represent an umbrella group of 11 Kurdish parties.

Libya's National Transitional Council said Sunday that it will not extradite Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, the only person convicted over the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, as he had already been tried.

Al-Megrahi was convicted in January 2001 of the bombing, which killed 270 people, but was freed in August 2009 after doctors said he had terminal prostate cancer. He now lives in a family villa in Tripoli.

The general impression on Sunday was of the slow move towards the "normal" in the Libyan capital Tripoli, with the National Transitional Council trying to establish authority and services. The city is reportedly "calm" this morning.

Meanwhile, the gradual build-up to a battle --- in essence, a final showdown with the old regime --- in Muammar Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte, east of Tripoli, continues.

Al Jazeera English's Zeina Khodr reports this morning that the advance of fighters towards Sirte has been slowed by a lack of skilled reinforcements: "There are no lack of men who actually lack weapons, but what you lack are trained fighters. Until Tripoli is secure we are not going to see these are going to need them if you are going to open new battles like in Sirte or in Sabha, further south another stronghold of the Libyan leader."

In Syria, activists say security forces dispersed an overnight sit-in at Badr Mosque in Malki, an upscale area in the centre of Damascus. The demonstration started with about 200 people and was later joined by some worshippers. The Local Coordinating Committees claim around 10 protesters were detained.


Syrian forces have also reportedly surrounded Rastan, north of Homs, after Saturday's stories of the defection of soldiers in the area. At least 40 light tanks and armoured vehicles, and 20 buses full of troops and Military Intelligence, were deployed at 5:30 a.m. local time at the entrance to the town.

Damascus has presented the Arab League with an "official objection" over Saturday's statement by League Foreign Ministers demanding an end to the conflict.

Syrian officials said the meeting agreed on a visit by Nabil Al Araby, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, but also accepted that no statement was going to be issued.

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