Al Jazeera and other Arab-centered blogs are reporting that gunfire can be heard throughout the capital as Qaddafi’s hold on power crumbles.
Libya rebels on Sunday infiltrated the capital Tripoli by sea in a covert operation launched from their western enclave of Misrata, a rebel spokesman said.
An advance party “from Misrata reached Tripoli this dawn by sea and joined Tripoli rebels. They are now fighting alongside them,” spokesman Abdullah Melitan told AFP in Misrata, 200 km from Tripoli.
Libyan rebels took control of Misrata in mid-May after repelling forces loyal to Muama Gaddafi who had laid siege to the strategic port city for two months. - AFP
Earlier The New York Times reported that a third top Qaddafi confidante, the Libyan oil minister, defected overnight, bringing this week’s total to three. The Times reports rumors that Qaddafi has fled the capital – at least no one seems to know where his latest broadcast against the rebel forces was made.
Juan Cole, who has steadfastly supported Western aid to the rebels despite his generally non-interventionist views, writes:
Those who were expecting a long, hard slog of fighters from the Western Mountain region and from Misrata toward the capital over-estimated dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s popularity in his own capital, and did not reckon with the severe shortages of ammunition and fuel afflicting his demoralized security forces, whether the regular army or mercenaries. Nor did they take into account the steady NATO attrition of his armor and other heavy weapons.
What happened to that ‘rag-tag’, ‘ineffectual’ group of fighters of six months ago!