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Posted at 08:52 AM ET, 08/25/2011

Libya news updates: Fierce battles continue near compound


A rebel kicks down a door during a house search in the final push to flush out Gaddafi’s forces in the Abu Salim area in Tripoli, Libya, Aug. 25, 2011. (Zohra Bensemra - Reuters)
After a four-decade-long rule and a six-month-old battle with rebel forces, Col. Moammar Gaddafi’s government appears to be crumbling. Tripoli is now almost completely under rebel control, and now the focus is on a manhunt for Gaddafi. The time is marked in EST. It is six hours ahead in Libya. Read the Post’s lead story here and follow other journalists’ tweets from Libya here.

Below, we will update on any breaking news:


4:50 p.m. Closing up

As we close up for the night, heavy fighting continues across Tripoli, now almost entirely rebel-controlled. As rebels search for Gaddafi, whom they believed hiding in the capital, they have also happened across the fugitive’s elaborate tunnel system. Large swaths of the city are filled with smoke:


Libyan rebels rush in Abu Salim district in Tripoli, Libya, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011. (Francois Mori - AP)


3:10 p.m. Clashes continue, casualties pile up

As clashes continues in the Abu Salim neighborhood and near the Bab al-Aziziya compound, casualties are piling up. The International Committee of the Red Cross in the capital says there has been an influx of wounded patients in hospitals, the BBC reports.

Part-Libyan author Hisham Matar tweeted Thursday:


The obituary of Izzo read:

‘Izzo’, as his friends and family liked to call him, had joined the rebel front immediately after the 17th of February revolution had started. He fought in the liberation of his hometown of Ajdabiya, helped liberate Brega and then went on to join the rebels in Misarata. He would return home to his family in Ajdabiya occasionally to rest, get a change of clothes and eat a proper meal before setting off again. Every time his mother would ask him not to leave, he used to jokingly quote from Qaddafi’s savage speech: ‘Forward, forward.’ She once asked him, ‘Forward till when? When will you stop fighting?’ ‘When we reach Bab al Aziziya,’ he told her. 

Izzo was hit by a sniper’s bullet and died four days later. His last words were that he wanted to be buried in Misurata, beside his friend Marwan.


2:00 p.m. Rebels plunder Gaddafi’s compound, luxurious homes


Rebel fighters look through an album they found inside Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Bab Al-Aziziya in Tripoli, Libya, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011. (Sergey Ponomarev - AP)
Rebels have made some incredible findings in Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound and in the luxurious homes of Gaddafi’s children Aisha and Al-Saadi. Our top five:

1. A photo album of Condoleeza Rice, whom Gaddafi called his “darling Leezza,” found in the compound.

2. A two seater golden mermaid counch with the face of Aisha Gaddafi, found in the compound.

3. A DVD with gay porn, entitled “Boyz Tracks,” found in Al-Saadi’s home. Compare that with a DVD about getting back into shape after childbirth, found in Aisha’s home.

4. Gaddafi’s trademark hat and chain, found in the compound, which a rebel took as a gift for his father.

5. A toothbrush with a gilded handle, found in Al-Saadi home.

Melissa Bell has rounded some great photos from inside the compound here.


1:00 p.m. Fierce battles continue near compound


Rebel fighters aim their rifles during a fire fight in Tripoli Aug. 25, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic - Reuters)
Fierce battles continue in Tripoli as Libyan rebels try to take over the last of Gaddafi’s strongholds.

The fighting remained focused on a cluster of apartment buildings near Gaddafi’s compound at Bab al-Aziziya. Nearly 1,000 rebels surrounded 10 buildings filled with Gaddafi loyalists, and — they hoped — Gaddafi himself.

Huge explosions and smoke filled the air and at least there of the buildings were burning, the AP reports.



11:50 a.m. New Gaddafi message aired on al-Ouroba TV


A still image of Gaddafi is displayed to accompany his audio message broadcast by Syrian TV channel al-Orouba, Aug. 25, 2011. (REUTERS TV - REUTERS)
CNN reports a new Gaddafi audio message has been aired on al-Ouroba TV, a controversial station owned by an Iraqi who launched his TV career by airing videos of U.S. soldiers being blown up.

The message called upon Libyan youth to fight the rebels, saying “let the millions march from all over, let the tribes fight the enemies. These people are not Libyan, they are outsiders.”

Gaddafi also called upon the imams and mosques in Tripoli to incite the youth and urged them to “wage Jihad” against the rebels.


11:15 a.m. Gaddafi spokesman says leader is in Libya and leading the fight


A picture shows the entrance to a tunnel at the Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli on August 25, 2011. Speculations of Gaddafi’s whereabouts often include the leader’s complex system of tunnels. (PATRICK BAZ - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
A spokesman for Gaddafi told the Associated Press that Gaddafi is still in Libya and leading the fight against the rebels.

Moussa Ibrahim said Thursday in a telephone call that Gaddafi is safe, healthy and has high morale. “[Gaddafi] is indeed leading the battle for our freedom and independence every day.”

Ibrahim would not say where in Libya Gaddafi was, but said the fugitive leader was constantly on the move.

Ibrahim was recognizable by his voice, the AP reports.


10:30 a.m. Photos, reports lead to questions about executions taking place on both sides

Photos and reports are coming in that indicate that both rebel and loyalist forces may have executed their enemies en masse.

Near the Bab al-Azaziya compound, dozens of bodies riddled with bullet holes lie face down in the grass, some with hands tied behind their back, The Post’s Simon Denyer reports. It is unclear whether the bodies are of rebel or loyalist forces.

In the Abu Salim neighborhood near the compound, more than 30 men believed to be fighters loyal to Gaddafi were killed and at least two were bound with plastic handcuffs, indicating they had been executed.


Covered bodies at a Tripoli hospital. (Image via YouTube)
Al-Jazeera’s James Bays has found evidence of a possible mass execution of political activists. Bays saw the bodies of 15 men who had been held by Gaddafi loyalists and were allegedly killed when rebel forces began to enter the compound.

“The smell here is overpowering,” Bays reports from hospital where the bodies were now located.“Everyone I have spoken to who has looked at these injuries, all the medical staff, they say they believe that the injuries they see on the bodies of these men have the hallmark of a mass execution.”

Read an account of a survivor of that execution at al-Jazeera.


9:15 a.m. Rebels say they have Gaddafi cornered

Nearly 1,000 rebels have besieged a cluster of apartment buildings near Gaddafi’s compound in Bab al-Aziziya and are exchanging fire with loyalist forces, Reuters reports.

They believed Gaddafi is hiding in the buildings with some of his sons.

“They are together. They are in a small hole,” one of the fighters involved in the battle, Muhammad Gomaa, told Reuters. “Today we finish. Today we will end that.”

The Post’s Simon Denyer tweeted:


The Abu Salim neighborhood is near Bab al-Aziziya, where smoke can now be seen rising, CNN reports.

Rebels have made a number of claims since Sunday that turned out not to be true, including that they had captured two of Gaddafi’s sons.

Christian Science Monitor reporter Dan Murphy tweeted “I very much doubt Gaddafi has gathered all his sons in a tripoli compound so they can die together (though happy to be proven wrong).”


A rebel fighter directs his comrades after they came under fire from forces loyal to Gaddafi in Tripoli Aug. 25, 2011. (Zohra Bensemra - Reuters)


8:15 a.m. What happened overnight

— Four Italian journalists who had been abducted by pro-Gaddafi forces were released, Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported.

— The Transitional National Council, or interim government, is preparing to move from its headquarters in Benghazi to Tripoli, a signal that the council believes the battle for the capital is over. They expect to move in the next week, but it could take several weeks. The Arab League also gave its full support to the NTC, al-Jazeera reported. Rebels across the capital celebrated their victories. A few recorded this mock ad, in which Kit Kat is the sponsor of their fight:

— Fears swirled that pro-Gaddafi supporters were going to start attacking locals, or that pro-Gaddafi forces would launch one last attack. Clashes continued in some pockets of the city, and residents reported that the city was full of snipers.

— The manhunt for Gaddafi continued as rumors continued to fly about where he might be — the Rixos hotel, his hometown of Sirte, his farm near the international airport, or among the animals at the Tripoli zoo. The rebel government has announced a $1.7 million bounty along with amnesty for information that leads to Gaddafi’s capture.

— NATO is assisting in those efforts. Liam Fox, Britain's defense minister, told Sky News channel Thursday: “I can confirm that NATO is providing intelligence and reconnaissance assets to the NTC to help them track down Colonel Gaddafi and other remnants of the regime.”

— One of the places the fugitive leader is rumored to be is in his underground network of tunnels. Al-Jazeera gained access to that network via Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound, which was captured by rebel forces on Tuesday. Watch footage of the tunnel network below:

By  |  08:52 AM ET, 08/25/2011

 
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