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Entries in Sirte (10)

Wednesday
Oct262011

How Moammar Gadhafi Spent His Final Weeks

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images(SIRTE, Libya) -- While the last five minutes of Moammar Gadhafi's life were undoubtedly terrifying, the ousted dictator also led a tortured existence in the weeks before those final brutal moments at the hands of Libyan rebels.

According to those familiar with the situation, Gadhafi chose to stay in his hometown of Sirte rather than try to flee to Niger or Algeria.

A local resident said that Gadhafi spent his last three weeks inside a two-story house in a northern part of the city.

Apparently, Gadhafi did not venture outside a room that was lined with metal sheets to keep people and bullets from entering.  His meals were made by his personal chef while as many as 200 snipers held position on rooftops surrounding the place where Gadhafi was holed.

Witnesses said that the once-powerful dictator had been humbled by his swift downfall and lived in fear of his life despite public proclamations that he would die rather than surrender.

It all came to an end last Thursday when African mercenaries hired to protect Gadhafi were unable to beat back the onslaught of rebels fighting for the National Transitional Council.

As his protectors were gunned down, the decision was made to flee the outpost in a fleet of cars.  But before going a mile outside Sirte, a CIA Predator drone and NATO war plane stopped the escape, forcing Gadhafi and others to spend their last living moments cowering in a twin-hole drainage tunnel before they met their ultimate fate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct212011

Details Surfacing on How Libyan Rebels Killed Moammar Gadhafi

Libyan National Transitional Council fighters stand outside drainage pipes where ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was captured. PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images(SIRTE, Libya) -- Celebrations continued across Libya the day after Moammar Gadhafi was killed by rebel forces in his hometown of Sirte, while details of the hours and minutes that led up to his death begin to surface.

Gadhafi's grisly final moments were captured on a grainy cellphone video that shows the former Libyan leader surrounded by a frenzied mob of rebels.  Men are seen grabbing at him, propping him up, and pummeling him while he can be seen dazed, attempting to speak and bleeding profusely.

The final hunt for Gadhafi began around 8 a.m. Thursday in Sirte, which is the former leader's hometown and was one of the final loyalist strongholds of his regime.  The rebels who took control of Libya in February began what they hoped would be their final offensive to conquer the town.

As the rebels toppled Sirte, a U.S. drone, which was operated remotely from Las Vegas, alerted NATO of a fleeing 80-car convoy.

Soon, French fighter jets responded with an airstrike, which took out two of the vehicles.  It is still unclear if these French fighters hit Gadhafi's car, but when the rebels poured in they told the BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse that the former leader was hiding in a drainage pipe.

"They say they discovered him [in the drainage pipe] just before 12 this afternoon.  They pulled him out of the hole, and one fighter told me that Moammar Gadhafi said to him, 'What did I do to you?'" Gatehouse said.

This account of finding Gadhafi in the drainage pipe was confirmed by an English-speaking rebel fighter, who told ABC News, "We catch him there.  We shot him."

In a video that surfaced Friday, Gadhafi is heard repeatedly saying the phrase "Haram Aleiko," which is an Arabic expression that literally translated means, "This is a sin for you."  The phrase is generally used as a plea to convey the vulnerability of the victim.

The fatal shot that killed Ghadhafi was reportedly fired by a young man donning a baseball cap with a Yankees logo.  Afterwards he was photographed brandishing Gadhafi's vanquished golden gun.

Still unknown is the fate of Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam, who played a prominent role taunting rebels throughout the seven-month revolution.  There had been reports he had been captured or killed, but there were also reports that he was fleeing south in the Sahara Desert to Niger.

It has been confirmed that one of Gadhafi's other sons, Muatassim, was also killed in Thursday's attack.  He was a prominent military commander.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct202011

Reports: Moammar Gadhafi Captured or Killed in Libya

An image captured off a cellular phone camera purportedly shows the arrest of Moammar Gadhafi in Sirte on October 20, 2011. PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has been killed, rebel leaders said Thursday.

After months on the run, the former dictator was found and shot by rebel fighters in his hometown of Sirte, according to Libya's new ruling body, the National Transitional Council.

Earlier reports said Gadhafi had been captured.

The White House and NATO said they were unable to confirm reports of his death.

Gadhafi's reported capture comes on the same day rebel fighters gained control of Sirte from his loyalists.  The port city was the last remaining Gadhafi stronghold left to fall, paving the way for the NTC to fully establish a new government.

Story developing...

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct202011

Libyan Rebels Gain Control of Sirte, Last Gadhafi Stronghold

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images(SIRTE, Libya) -- Two months after anti-government forces overran the Libyan capital of Tripoli rebel fighters Thursday appeared to have finally seized control of Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte from his loyalists, according to published reports.

This takeover signifies the official end of Gadhafi’s four-decade dictatorial rule of Libya, which began to crumble last February when pro-democracy activists staged an uprising in the eastern city of Benghazi that spread westward.

Within a month, NATO, along with U.S. assistance, came to the aid of rebel forces by establishing a no-fly zone over Libya, which grounded Gadhafi’s war jets as pro and anti-government fighters engaged in a five-month battle that culminated with the rogue leader, his family, and remaining supporters fleeing Tripoli in late August.

Still, the National Transitional Council -- Libya’s new regime -- was unable to fully establish a new government until cities considered Gadhafi strongholds were also under control, namely Bani Walid, which fell earlier this week, and Sirte, a strategic port city.

The fight for Sirte was meticulously planned as the TNC tried to minimize civilian casualties.  Pockets of resistance that included snipers prevented a quick victory, so rebels proceeded to gain control of Sirte block by block over several weeks until the last of Gadhafi's loyalists were sent running Thursday.

Even though Gadhafi’s whereabouts are still unknown, taking Sirte essentially leaves him with no base city to plot counter-moves against TNC fighters.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct132011

Libyan Rebels Close In on Sirte While Another Gadhafi Son Is Caught

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images(SIRTE, Libya) -- After weeks of fighting, it appears that rebel forces are on the verge of finally controlling former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte if they haven't done so already.

There were reports Wednesday that Sirte had fallen into the rebels' hands although Libya's new regime, the Transitional National Council, wasn't prepared to confirm this development.

Seizing Sirte would enable the TNC to begin the process of formally setting up a government and open ports and harbors even though a few Gadhafi strongholds still remain.

The city has been fiercely defended by the ousted leader's supporters even as the rest of the country has apparently settled into a post-Gadhafi era.

Meanwhile, the TNC was able to announce that Gadhafi's fifth's son, Mutassim, was taken into custody outside Sirte.  He had served as National Security Adviser of Libya under the regime of his father, who is still on the run.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct102011

Rebels Making Gradual Progress in Bid to Capture Gadhafi's Hometown

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images(SIRTE, Libya) -- Col. Moammar Gadhafi has no intention of surrendering to Libya's new regime and neither apparently does his hometown.

While the whereabouts of the former Libyan dictator are unknown, many of his fellow townspeople of Sirte are resisting the takeover by opposition forces sent by the Transitional National Council, the country's new ruling body.

Progress has been slow in Sirte although interim government forces say there are capturing parts of the city, landmark by landmark.

The latest to fall Sunday are the university and a conference center, but taking the main city square has been difficult due to snipers holding off advancing rebels.

Capturing Sirte with as little violence as possible seems to be the strategy so there'll be no full-scale offensive to give residents time to leave the most vulnerable areas.

Protracted battles in Sirte and a few other hot spots have prevented the TNC from setting up a full-fledged government.

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

Sunday
Aug282011

Spokesman Says Gadhafi is Ready for Transitional Talks 

FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI) Libyan rebels have continued to secure the capital of Tripoli, but fighting has continued around Sirte, the hometown of Colonel Gadhafi.

A spokesman for Gadhafi says the Colonel is ready to begin talks concerning the transfer power. The talks would be led by Gadhafi’s son Saadi.

The Arab League has meanwhile given its backing to the National Transitional Council.  

Gadhafi has been in hiding since rebels took over Tripoli last week.

Copyright 2011 aBC News Radio

Thursday
Mar312011

Libyan Rebels in Retreat as Country's Foreign Minister Resigns

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Libyan rebels have retreated, despite support from NATO airstrikes, days after seeming to turn the tide against leader Moammar Gadhafi. The ongoing battle has shown no signs of abating as President Obama Wednesday signed a presidential finding authorizing covert operations to assist the anti-Gadhafi forces.

Rebels were met overnight with heavy fire from Gadhafi forces as cars fled the eastern city of Ajdabiya, erasing almost all of the rebels' gains. Gadhafi's troops have been using pickup trucks armed with heavy weapons, making them hard to distinguish from the rebels in the air.

After a fast advance to the doorstep of Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, the rebels have lost town after town. But with every major advance for Gadhafi, comes a major setback.

One of his closest allies made his own full retreat Wednesday night, all the way to London. Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa resigned from the regime in protest against Gadhafi's attacks against civilians. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Koussa's departure is a sign that Gadhafi's regime is "crumbling." Hague also said Koussa is "not being offered any immunity from British or international justice."

But as one member of Gadhafi's inner circle exits, another has newly emerged. Once rarely seen in the media, Gadhafi's only daughter, Aisha, has now taken to Libyan TV and to the frontline, echoing her father's message that they will not back down.

Meanwhile, NATO officials said Thursday morning that they have taken control over air operations in Libya, which include enforcing the no-fly zone.

As the presidential finding discusses a number of ways to help the opposition to Gadhafi, including authorizing some help now and setting up a legal framework for more activities in the future, it does not direct covert operatives to provide arms to the rebels immediately, although it does prepare for such a contingency.

President Obama said in a speech Monday that protecting civilians from near certain genocide and not ousting Gadhafi was the intended purpose of the U.S. air strikes that started two weeks ago.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Monday
Mar282011

Libyan Rebels Advance to Sirte as NATO Assumes Command

ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Air raids targeting the Libyan city of Sirte Sunday night aided rebels advancing towards the city.  It was also confirmed that NATO will now be assuming the entire mission in the war-torn country, including all air strikes and the civilian protection mission.

Sirte, which is Moammar Gadhafi's hometown, lies halfway between the rebel-held east and the government-controlled west.  Taking the city is a major coup for the rebels, who are quickly advancing toward the capitol city of Tripoli.

Earlier Sunday, rebels regained two key oil complexes along Libya's coastal highway.  Their westward march towards Sirte mirrors their earlier advancement towards the capitol, but this week they had powerful air forces bombarding Gadhafi's military and clearing a path.

Shortly after nightfall, air raids on both Tripoli and Sirte began, Libyan state television confirmed.  Fighting began in the contested city of Misrata -- which lies between Sirte and Tripoli -- as residents reported that pro-Gadhafi forces were firing on residential areas.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed that NATO will assume command of all aerial operations in Libya, taking over from the U.S.-led force.

According to a senior Obama administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity, NATO will now assume the entire mission of implementing U.N. Security Council resolution 1973, which demands an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians.

This fulfills President Obama's promise to take the leading edge with America's unique capabilities, then quickly turn over authority to NATO, the official said.

More countries should be contributing assets to the operation, the official said, adding that not every country will have to take part in every aspect of the mission.  While some may contribute to enforcing the arms embargo or the no-fly zone only, others may participate in bombings to protect civilians.

NATO will lead all of it, the official confirmed, stressing that the mission is to strike at anyone who targets civilians, not to support the Libyan rebels.  NATO commanders will have the authority to pick bombing targets and won't have to seek permission from a political body first, the official noted.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio