In a telephone address to the Libyan people, Muammar Gaddafi appealed to them to “Go forward, go forward,” and he then hung up. An advance is indeed under way, but not the one Brother Muammar was asking for.
“If you can call any mobile number in Tripoli, you will hear in the background the beautiful sound of the bullets of freedom,” Anwar Fekini, a rebel leader from the mountainous region in western Libya, told the New York Times yesterday.
Phone calls to several Tripoli residents from different neighborhoods confirmed widespread gunfire and explosions. And there were reports of frequent NATO jet overflights and airstrikes — a common accompaniment to the drumbeat of the rebel advance in the past week.
But a report from Russia Today has a different angle. “[E]yewitnesses say the gunfire is sporadic and the explosions heard are victory celebrations of Gaddafi loyalists.”
Apparently the RT website does have some kind of editorial review since that line doesn’t appear in later version of this report. I guess even the most stalwart Gaddafi sympathizers have a hard time believing Gaddafi loyalists are detonating victory bombs.
Mahdi Nazemroaya, reporting for RT, says that the mainstream media is part of the NATO war machine, so I guess reports about Gaddafi’s imminent defeat, the continued defection of senior officials, and now large anti-government protests inside Tripoli are all just part of the misinformation campaign designed to demoralize Gaddafi’s supporters. And I guess if you subscribe to the notion that most of the reports coming out of Libya right now are misinformation, there’s no point reading any more of this post.
Taher, a resident and fighter close to the center of Tripoli, tells Al Jazeera that those inside the city now rising up against Gaddafi forces are not getting the support from NATO that they want — so much for the idea that everything now taking place is being choreographed by NATO.
The Guardian reports:
The fighting in Tripoli comes after days of battlefield defeats left Muammar Gaddafi’s government and troops penned ever more tightly in the besieged capital. Although the scale of the clashes was impossible to determine, there were widespread claims among the Libyan rebels that Gaddafi’s 41-year rule was edging ever closer to collapse.
As gunfire was still audible outside, a government spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, told reporters the incidents were “isolated” and short-lived. He blamed “armed gangs” of a few dozen rebels who had sneaked into Tripoli, including foreign mercenaries, some of whom had been captured.
“Sure, there were some armed militants who escaped into some neighbourhoods and there were some scuffles, but we dealt with it within a half hour and it is now calm,” the spokesman said.
He added: “I ensure Libyans that Gaddafi is your leader … Tripoli is surrounded by thousands to defend it.”
Later in the evening news agencies in Tripoli reported that the sound of gunfire appeared to diminish – although why was not clear. “It has become much less,” said a Reuters reporter. “Almost a minute went by without the sound of gunfire.”
Two Tripoli residents in different parts of the city also said the sound of shooting, which earlier had been intense, had subsided, suggesting Gadaffi’s forces remained largely in control. The reports of clashes in Tripoli came in the midst of a febrile mood among rebel forces, who swapped rumours and fired weapons in celebration, convinced that Gaddafi’s days are almost over.
One of the few things that was certain was that the long anticipated battle for Tripoli itself – if not here yet – was coming closer.