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Entries in Rebel Forces (39)

Thursday
Sep082011

Rebels Worry Gadhafi Will Escape; Ousted Leader Denies Fleeing to Niger

ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Libyan rebels are in a race against time as they pursue Col. Moammar Gadhafi, whose whereabouts remain unknown since he was driven from power nearly two weeks ago.

The main concern of the Transitional National Council, which now runs the Libyan government, is that Gadhafi, his family members and loyalists will escape to Niger.

According to the leader of the hunt for Gadhafi, the fugitive former dictator was spotted about 200 miles from Libya's southern borders several days ago and the fear is that Gadhafi will slip into either Niger or Chad.

If that happens, the TNC can only hope that he will be returned to Libya or handed over to the International Criminal Court where he could stand trial for war crimes.

So far, Niger's officials are remaining coy about what it will do.  The country's foreign minister says that his country's border is so porous that it would be virtually impossible to keep Gadhafi and his band from entering.

Meanwhile, in a phone call to a Syrian television station that was broadcast on Thursday, Gadhafi denied rumors that he has fled to Niger.  Instead, the ousted leader stood his ground, telling Arrai TV that his forces would defeat the Libyan rebels and NATO.  The call is said to have been made from inside Libya.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep062011

Large Libyan Convoy Crosses into Niger; Passengers Unknown

Antenna Audio, Inc(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- A large convoy of about 200 to 250 cars left Libya Tuesday morning, crossing the country's southern border into Niger and creating speculation over who was inside the vehicles.

There are reports that the convoy could have been carrying Moammar Gadhafi or either of his two sons, but that is just a rumor at the moment.  The most likely scenario at this point is that it contained some of the Tuareg tribe, which is being paid by Gadhafi to protect him, his sons and his family.

Meanwhile, rebel leaders in Libya are trying to persuade Gadhafi loyalists to lay down their arms in Bani Walid -- one of the last strongholds of the ousted Libyan dictators.  Negotiations to liberate the city from pro-Gadhafi forces are continuing between rebel leaders and the town's elders.

The rebels are still massing on the outskirts of Bani Walid, surrounding it from both the east and the west.  They're poised for an attack if the negotiations falter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep012011

Rebels Call on Residents of Gadhafi's Hometown to Stage Revolt

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Rebels intent on seizing control of Libyan Col. Moammar Gadhafi's coastal hometown of Sirte are resigned to fighting if it comes down to that.

However, they're hoping for help within the city to reduce the chance of a violent takeover.

The fighters are pleading with the residents of Sirte to lead a peaceful revolution between now and Saturday, when the rebel offensive is scheduled to begin.

For now, Gadhafi loyalists have shown no sign of backing down.  A spokesman for the fugitive dictator turned down a request by the Transitional National Council, the de facto rulers of Libya, that his fighters lay down their arms and surrender Sirte peacefully.

It's believed that Gadhafi may be hiding out in the city, or in Bani Walid, a central Libyan city with strong ties to the colonel.

Taking Sirte would essentially unite the rebel eastern stronghold of Benghazi with Tripoli in the west, formerly Gadhafi's headquarters.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug312011

Libyan Rebels Ready to Invade Gadhafi's Hometown

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- If Libyan Col. Moammar Gadhafi is indeed hiding out in his coastal hometown of Sirte, his days may truly be numbered.

Rebel forces said Tuesday that they're close to launching an offensive that would seize control of Sirte from Gadhafi loyalists.  They're also planning to take the southern city of Sabha, another holdout.

Taking Sirte would be the final nail in Gadhafi's coffin as ruler of Libya, since the territory effectively unites the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi with Tripoli, Gadhafi’s former headquarters in the west.

The rebels believe that once Sirte and Sabha fall, forces still hoping for Gadhafi's return to power will have no other choice but to surrender and admit that there's a new government in Libya.

The Transitional National Council, which now essentially controls Libya, is seeking to avoid further bloodshed and is telling the rebels to wait until Saturday -- the end of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr -- to make an all-out push to wrest Sirte from Gadhafi's fighters.

Gadhafi's tribe are among the residents of the city while his son commands the elite Khamis Brigade, which would likely engage the rebels in a fight to the death if it comes to that.  However, there are fresh, unconfirmed reports from rebels within the past 24 hours that Khamis is dead.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug252011

$2 Million Reward Offered for Capturing Gadhafi Dead or Alive

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Moammar Gadhafi could make himself a quick $2 million if he turns himself in to rebel forces.

That's the bounty being offered for the fugitive Libyan colonel, who hasn't been seen since earlier in the week when anti-government forces began to overrun Tripoli.

A group of businessmen in Tripoli are offering $2 million to anyone who brings in Gadhafi, dead or alive.  If it's one of Gadhafi's own men, they would also be granted amnesty.

The search for Gadhafi has expanded to the dictator's coastal hometown of Sirte, where rebels say they're meeting very little resistance.  However, the longer the hunt goes on, the greater the possibility that Gadhafi can form insurgent groups to undermine the presumed new ruling body, the Transitional National Council.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug252011

Search for Gadhafi Focuses on Secret Tunnels

ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Now that the Tripoli power base of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has fallen to rebel fighters, the hunt for the man who ruled the country for four decades has begun in earnest.

Rebel and foreign officials have said they believe he could still be in Libya, and speculation has focused on key cities still in dispute, as well as on a secret network of underground tunnels and bunkers that the Libyan president had built beneath Tripoli for just such an emergency.

"The real moment of victory is when Gadhafi is captured," Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of Libya's rebel council, said Wednesday before adding that the council doesn't have any idea where he is.

In an audio message broadcast early Wednesday morning, Gadhafi called his evacuation from his famous Bab al-Aziziya compound in southern Tripoli a "tactical move."

"I call on all the Tripoli residents with all its young, old and armed brigades to defend the city, to cleanse it, put an end to the traitors and kick them out from our city," he said, once again vowing "martyrdom" or victory.  Gadhafi has not been seen for weeks, releasing only audio recordings in that time.

"He doesn't seem to have much control of anything.  It's interesting that he hasn't been seen," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters on Tuesday.

Rebels have yet to take Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte and some have speculated that he may be in the southern city of Sabha, his ancestral home.  But the more feverish hypothesizing centers on a long-rumored "underground city" comprised of a series of tunnels and bunkers emanating from the Bab al-Aziziya compound that was attacked by U.S. warplanes in 1986 and again repeatedly by NATO during its five-month air campaign.

Before being overrun Tuesday, the heavily-fortified compound was guarded by the truest of Gadhafi loyalists, leading many to believe that Gadhafi and his family were still holed up inside.  The sprawling 2.3 square mile fortress has a series of 12-foot walls surrounded a military barracks, private residences and a mosque, among other structures.  When rebels entered, several climbed atop the iconic statue of a golden fist crushing an American fighter jet.

Tunnels have been rumored to run from the compound to the airport -- now in rebel control -- as well as to the Mediterranean coast several miles away and to the nearby Rixos hotel, where until Wednesday more than 30 foreign journalists were held by Gadhafi forces.

Tripoli isn't the only place tunnels and bunkers were built for Libya's eccentric leader.  At a palace in the eastern city of al-Baida taken over earlier this year by protesters, a nuclear bunker was reportedly discovered.  According to Al Jazeera, the bunker had a "fully serviced air filter system and is also equipped with emergency generators, fire alarms, water pumps, and a ladder fixed in what could have served as a back emergency exit."

And in the rebel capital of Benghazi, a series of tunnels and prison cells was discovered beneath the once-feared large green government complex known as the Katiba.

Then there's the Great Man-Made River, a project Gadhafi touted as the Eighth Wonder of the World.  Its 2,500-mile system of pipes 12-feet in diameter carries fresh water all over Libya and some have even guessed that Gadhafi may be using it to escape.

With so little concrete information, some analysts believe intelligence services will question the western contractors brought in to build Gadhafi's various tunnels and bunkers.  With few countries willing to take Gadhafi in, it's not terribly far-fetched to believe he may eventually be found in a Saddam Hussein-style spider hole.  But millions of Libyans are hoping to find Gadhafi faster than the eight months it took to hunt down Hussein.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug242011

Gadhafi Remains Defiant; Calls on Supports to Fight Rebels

Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- The battle for Libya may be coming to an end as rebels continue to make headway against government forces, but Moammar Gadhafi, whose whereabouts remain unknown, continues to sound defiant.

Trying to rally his beleaguered supporters, the Libyan leader took to the airwaves to attack the rebels and their cause.

"These gangs seek to destroy Tripoli," Gadhafi said, through a translator, on a pro-regime satellite TV station Wednesday.  "They don't care about security, the happiness, the well-being of Tripoli residents.  They are evil incarnated.  We should fight them.  These people go inside mosques and destroy them."

Gadhafi also called on his supporters to stand up against the opposition.

"I call on all the Tripoli residents, with all its young, old and armed brigades, to defend the city, to cleanse it, put an end to the traitors and kick them out of our city," he said.

There was also word Wednesday that the journalists who had for days been holed up at the Rixos Hotel were freed and packed into Red Cross vehicles.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug232011

Libyan Rebel Forces Loot Gadhafi's Armory, Retreat to Regroup

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Large numbers of rebel fighters are retreating into Libya's western towns and cities on Tuesday to regroup with weapons looted from Moammar Gadhafi's armory while others continue to clash with the Libyan leader's regime as the battle for Tripoli enters its third day.

Rebels broke into Bab al-Azizya, the main military compound in Tripoli, and reportedly filled several pick-up trucks to the brim with munitions and supplies.  Rebel soldiers told ABC News that they plan to return to their bases then go back to Tripoli to attack Gadhafi's loyalists one more time in an attempt to seal victory.

The retreat is a shift in the situation in Tripoli on Monday when reports indicated that two of Gadhafi's three sons were captured by rebels and the 40-year reign of his regime was crumbling. However, Gadhafi's son and said-to-be successor Said al-Islam appeared on TV Monday, taking journalists on a tour of the areas of the capital still loyal to the regime.

Gadhafi's forces have been pushed into a corner since rebel fighters entered Tripoli on Sunday, with State Department officials estimating that the rebels are in control of 90 percent of Tripoli.

The conflict reportedly entered an extremely bloody phase on Tuesday with violent street fights erupting across Tripoli; hospitals in all the cities and towns around the capital overflowed with casualties, and reports of extensive deaths flooded in.

An emboldened Saif al Islam Gadhafi -- whom Libyan rebels claimed to have captured -- made his unexpected re-appearance to a cheering crowd at Tripoli's Rixos Hotel, where he claimed the Libyan regime will be victorious.

"We are going to win because the people are with us.  That's why we're going to win," Saif al Islam Gadhafi said after turning up early Tuesday morning amongst regime forces at the hotel where dozens of foreign journalists are staying.

"Look at them, look at them," he said referring to Libyans who have flooded the capital.  "In the streets, everywhere."

"We have broken the backbone of the rebels.  It was a trap," he told the BBC.  "We gave them a hard time, so we are winning."

When asked if his father is safe, Saif al Islam laughed and said, "Of course."

His appearance in a white limousine amid a convoy of armored SUVs on the streets of Tripoli conflicts with claims the rebels' National Transitional Council made on Sunday that three of Gadhafi's sons had either been captured or surrendered.

The leadership's spokesman Sadeq al-Kabir had no explanation for his sudden re-appearance and could only say, "This could be all lies."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug232011

Libya's New Leaders Have Their Work Cut Out for Them

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Post-Gadhafi Libya is most likely going to experience some growing pains.

However, analysts familiar with Libya and the region are expressing optimism that once the rebels can claim total victory, the transition from dictatorship to democracy could go more smoothly there than in Egypt and Tunisia, which overthrew their leaders earlier this year.

There are many obstacles to overcome, not the least of which are Libya's 140 tribes throughout the eastern and western parts of the country.  Getting them to unify will be a huge challenge for the Transitional National Council, the group that conducted the successful guerilla campaign against Gadhafi loyalists, with a major assist from NATO.

Another potential danger to unification are pockets of insurgents left behind who might conduct a low-level war against the new government, similar to what's been happening in Iraq for the past eight years.

Still, Libya could avoid the same trap as Iraq because the revolution happened without any foreign boots on the ground, and so their revolution would be viewed as more legitimate by the international community.

Another advantage is that the TNC has gained experience governing over the past six months while engaged in a vicious fight with government forces.  Those within the group include former Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Abdul Jalil, who is the TNC chairman, and Finance Minister Ali Tarhouni, a former professor at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The new government will also control Libya's rich oil supply, which immediately gives it better financial footing than the more heavily populated Egypt and Tunisia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug222011

Libyan Rebels Seize Tripoli; Two of Gadhafi's Sons Captured

AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Rebel forces took control of much of Tripoli Sunday night, and thousands flooded the streets of the Libyan capital and other cities around the country to celebrate what they hope will be the end of Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year reign.

The Transitional National Council (NTC), the administration set up by the rebel forces, claimed that three of the Libyan strongman's sons have either been captured or surrendered.

Muhammad Gadhafi, eldest son of the Libyan leader, told Al Jazeera in a weepy phone call that he had surrendered to opposition forces.  He said that his house was surrounded by gunfire and that he was under house arrest.

Shortly before that phone call, his brothers, Seif al Islam and Saadi, were captured by rebel forces in Tripoli, according to the NTC.  Seif al Islam, like his father, has been indicted on charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.

Rebel forces have surrounded the Gadhafi compound, Bab al Aziziya, a representative of the rebel government told ABC News, and gunfire has been heard outside the compound.

Mohamad al Akari, an NTC advisor, said that if Moammar Gadhafi is still in Tripoli, they believe he is in Bab al Aziziya.  The NTC also claimed that members of Gadhafi's presidential guard have surrendered to the rebel forces.

Libyan rebel forces gathered in Green Square in the heart of Tripoli, but there were isolated clashes with government forces and snipers throughout the city, according to multiple reports.

In Benghazi, in eastern Libya, crowds set off fireworks, waving flags and cheering for Gadhafi's departure.

President Obama said the day's events proved that there was only one choice for Gadhafi: to give up power and let the Libyan people decide their own future.

"The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Moammar Gadhafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end," Obama said.  "Gadhafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya.  He needs to relinquish power once and for all."

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also said Gadhafi's regime was "clearly crumbling."  He said NATO air strikes would continue if government troops make "any threatening moves toward the Libyan people."

Gadhafi's whereabouts were unknown, but audiotapes of the strongman were broadcast on state television Sunday evening in which he declared that his forces would not give up and would "fight until the last blood drop."

"How come you allow Tripoli the capital, to be under occupation once again?" he said in the broadcast, in which he was not shown.  "The traitors are paving the way for the occupation forces to be deployed in Tripoli."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio