Rebel official says the “coordinated” operation is “going easily”, the government denies the reports and insists “we will not leave” Libya.
TRIPOLI – The Libyan government and rebel officials gave wildly disparate accounts of events in Tripoli on Sunday as gunfire and explosions continued to rock the capital, not far from the home of ruler Moammar Gadhafi, CNN reported. Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, a son of the ruler and a top official in his regime, said on state television that the rebels were losing every battle. His statement came hours after his father told supporters that the “traitors” and their NATO allies were lying and nearing their end.
The Gadhafis’ accounts, however, contrasted with reports from CNN reporters, witnesses and rebel officials that government forces continued to lose ground across the North African nation and faced fresh attacks in the capital. Faithi Baja, political affairs chief for the rebels’ Transitional National Council, said in a video statement Sunday that the rebel fighters’ freshly launched operation inside Tripoli was “going easily” and that they are inching toward Gadhafi’s Bab al-Azizia compound.
“The revolution from inside Tripoli has officially started (Saturday) evening in many parts … of Tripoli, and is expected to spread to all of Tripoli,” said Jumma Ibrahim, a rebel spokesman from the western mountain region around Zintan. “Most of the neighborhoods in Tripoli are rising up,” he said. Ibrahim also said Libyan rebels took control of the city of Jaddaim, west of Tripoli, on Saturday night.
Heavy clashes erupted Saturday night in at least one Tripoli neighborhood, marked by intense gunfire, explosions and people screaming as they ran through the street, a resident told CNN.
But speaking just before midnight in Tripoli, government spokesman Musa Ibrahim insisted that all is safe and “in excellent condition.” He said that the Libyan capital remains under government control. The official also accused NATO of “going mad,” the BBC said. “NATO in the last week or so… has been opening the roads ahead of the rebels who are too weak to do anything themselves,” he told a news conference in Tripoli. He also accused the rebel forces of carrying out “massacres” and killing people in the streets of those towns and villages they had seized in recent days.
NATO is enforcing a UN resolution to protect civilians from Col Gadhafi’s forces but critics say it has overstepped its mandate by helping the rebels.
Moammar Gadhafi echoed his spokesman in claiming rebel officials were lying about the situation in Tripoli and beyond while predicting the six-month-long conflict would climax soon. In an audio address broadcast on state-run TV, the Libyan leader blasted the rebel “traitors” and the NATO forces backing them as unethical and intent on destroying the county and ruining lives.