Libya’s Gaddafi detained, end of reign nigh
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has been captured and is being held, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has announced.
Earlier a spokesman for the Libyan government said on state television that Gaddafi, the country’s leader for 41 years, had asked NATO to convince the rebel forces to halt their attack on Tripoli.
He said the leader was prepared to negotiate directly with the head of the rebel National Transitional Council.
Around 1300 people have been killed in fighting in Tripoli.
The dramatic developments come after rebel fighters streamed into the outskirts of the Libyan capital with little sign of resistance, despite an earlier call by Gaddafi for citizens to take up arms and save his regime from annihilation.
The rebels’ flags are flying in various positions outside and within the city and they claim to have virtually all of Tripoli under their control.
A NATO spokeswoman said the leader’s regime was “crumbling”.
“The territory (Gaddafi) controls is shrinking fast, his closest allies are packing their bags, and the people of Tripoli are rising,” said NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.
“The sooner he realises he cannot win, the better – so that the Libyan people can be spared further bloodshed and suffering.”
Reports this morning also suggested rebels had captured Gaddafi’s son, Saif Al-Islam.
“We have confirmed information that our guys have captured Saif Al-Islam,” rebel leader Mustapha Abd El Jalil said. “We have given instructions to treat him well so that he can face trial.”
CBS News reporter Jan Crawford said that as the rebels advanced on the capital there was no substantial resistance from the Gaddafi troops. She said all evidence suggested the soldiers “had ditched their uniforms and had simply scarpered”.
Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance was ready to work with rebels fighting Gaddafi to achieve a peaceful resolution.
“NATO is ready to work with the Libyan people and with the (rebel) Transitional National Council, which holds a great responsibility,” Rasmussen said.
“They must make sure that the transition is smooth and inclusive, that the country stays united, and that the future is founded on reconciliation and respect for human rights.”
He added NATO would continue to monitor military facilities in Libya to ensure civilians were not under threat.
Troops enter Tripoli
The convoy of rebels entered a western neighbourhood of the city firing their weapons into the air today.
The BBC’s Matthew Price is holed up in the city and says there is a large amount of heavy fighting going on and many government minders are leaving. Bursts of gunfire and blasts from rocket-propelled grenades rang out near a hotel in Tripoli where Price and foreign media are staying.
Price said the worrying sign is that it’s unlikely to be a peaceful transition even if Gaddafi’s reign is over – despite Nato’s wishes – officials are speaking of a massacre if the rebels take over the city.
Thousands of rebel fighters were seen earlier in the day 20 km west of the city centre, aiming to join fighters inside who began an uprising late on Saturday.
In a coordinated revolt that rebels have been secretly planning for months to end Gaddafi’s dictatorship, shooting started on Saturday night across Tripoli moments after Muslim clerics, using the loudspeakers of mosque minarets, called people onto the streets.
The fighting inside Tripoli, combined with rebel advances into the outskirts of the city, appeared to signal the decisive phase in a six-month conflict that has become the bloodiest of the “Arab Spring” uprisings and embroiled NATO powers.
Gaddafi’s days numbered: White House
The White House has predicted that Muammar Gaddafi’s days as leader of Libya are numbered and Downing Streeti in London says the end is clearly near.
President Barack Obama received a briefing from senior national security staffer John Brennan at his rented farmhouse on the resort island of Martha’s Vineyard, which included inputs from a US team in rebel stronghold Benghazi.
“The United States continues to communicate closely with our allies, partners, and the (rebels’ Transitional National Council),” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
“We believe that Gaddafi’s days are numbered, and that the Libyan people deserve a just, democratic and peaceful future,” he said, repeating a line frequently used by the administration throughout the Libya crisis.
Rebel advances on Libya came as NATO appeared to intensify its air strikes after urging civilians to avoid areas around government installations and arsenals.
Republican Senator John McCain said he believed Gaddafi’s four decades-long rule could be over within “hours if not days” but said that the Obama administration could have hastened his demise with direct US airpower.
“I believe that it’s nearing the end,” McCain said on CBS show “Face the Nation.”
“It’s going to be a big challenge forming a new government, uniting a country that has never known democracy.
“I grieve a bit because this conflict didn’t have to last this long. The United States air power could have shortened this conflict dramatically. And unfortunately we chose not to. We led from behind.”
Obama committed heavy US firepower to the Libya conflict in the early days, but then handed over responsibility for front line military action to US allies in NATO, though Washington retains a large support role in the mission.
Defector sees end of regime in 10 days
Muammar Gaddafi’s former right-hand man Abdel Salam Jalloud, who has defected to the Libyan rebel side, has said Gaddafi would be toppled within 10 days.
Speaking on Italy’s Rai News, Jalloud said Gaddafi’s rule was “certainly” about to end and would be over “within a week, at the latest 10 days, maybe even less”.
Jalloud said in the televised interview he did not expect Gaddafi to flee to another country because all roads out of Tripoli were blocked.
He doubted that Gaddafi would surrender or commit suicide, but said “the way the situation is evolving, he won’t be able to survive”.
Jalloud was a member of the junta that staged the 1969 coup that brought Gaddafi to power, and was seen as second-in-command before falling out of Gaddafi’s favour.
In the 1990s he was reportedly stripped of his passport and put under surveillance following a disagreement with Gaddafi.
A rebel spokesman said on Friday Jalloud had defected to rebel-held territory, and Italy’s Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa said on Sunday he was on Italian soil.