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Libyan rebels storm Gadhafi’s Tripoli compound

Libyan rebels stormed Moammar Gadhafi’s main military compound in Tripoli today after fierce gunbattles with forces loyal to his regime, stomping on a bronze bust of the longtime leader, whose whereabouts remained unknown.


Sergey Ponomarev - Associated Press

An explosion is seen near Muammar Gadhafi’s main compound in the Bab al-Aziziya district in Tripoli, Libya, on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. Fresh fighting erupted in Tripoli on Tuesday hours after Moammar Gadhafi’s son turned up free to thwart Libyan rebel claims he had been captured, a move that seems to have energized forces still loyal to the embattled regime.


Sergey Ponomarev - Associated Press

Smoke rises over buildings in Moammar Gadhafi’s main compound in the Bab al-Aziziya district of Tripoli, Libya, on Tuesday.


There was heavy fighting before the rebels broke through the green gates of the compound and shooting broke out from other parts of the large, sprawling complex. The body of a slain Gadhafi fighter with a gaping head wound was sprawled on the floor of one of two tents that had been used for pro-regime protests. The other tent was partially on fire.

Associated Press

Sergey Ponomarev - Associated Press

The body of a dead pro-Gadhafi fighter seen inside a burning tent in Moammar Gadhafi’s main compound in Bab al-Aziziya in Tripoli.


Sergey Ponomarev - Associated Press

Rebel fighter breaks the glass of Moammar Gadhafi’s tent inside the main compound in Bab Al-Aziziya in Tripoli, Libya, on Tuesday.


Sergey Ponomarev - Associated Press

Rebel fighters trample on a head of Moammar Gadhafi inside the main compound in Bab al-Aziziya.


The heavily fortified complex, which has been heavily damaged by NATO airstrikes for five of the six months since the anti-regime uprising began, is the most defining symbol of Gadhafi’s nearly 42-year rule and its occupation, a day after the rebels swept into the Libyan capital with stunning speed, comes as the opposition faced pockets of resistance and fighting rocked the capital.

Associated Press

Sergey Ponomarev - Associated Press

Rebel fighters seen inside the main Moammar Gadhafi compound in Bab al-Aziziya in Tripoli.


Sergey Ponomarev - Associated Press

A rebel fighter carries a gun inside the main Moammar Gadhafi compound in Bab al-Aziziya in Tripoli, Libya, on Tuesday. Libyan rebels stormed Moammar Gadhafi’s main military compound in Tripoli Tuesday after fierce fighting with forces loyal to his regime that rocked the capital as the longtime leader refused to surrender despite the stunning advances by opposition forces.


Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday that it was clear the rebels were winning “important successes … but this is not yet an ordered or secure situation.” “They have fought their way to the gates of Gadhafi’s compound, that is a historic achievement,” Hague told Britain’s Sky News. “It’s not over yet, but we are in the death throes of a despicable regime.”

Associated Press

Sergey Ponomarev - Associated Press

Rebel cars seen inside the main Moammar Gadhafi compound in Bab Al-Aziziya in Tripoli, Libya, on Tuesday.


Francois Mori - Associated Press

Libyan rebels fire into the air in the Bab El Bahrah district in Tripoli, on Tuesday.


Sergey Ponomarev - Associated Press

A rebel righter escorts suspected pro-Gadhafi soldiers after they were captured Tuesday in Tripoli. Rebels say they control most of Tripoli, but they faced pockets of fierce resistance from regime loyalists firing mortars and anti-aircraft guns.


Sergey Ponomarev - Associated Press

Rebel fighters speak to a suspected pro-Gadhafi soldier after he was captured.


Gadhafi’s former right-hand man Abdel-Salam Jalloud, who defected earlier this month, told Al-Jazeera television that he thought the Libyan leader was moving around the outskirts of Tripoli, taking shelter at private homes, small hotels and mosques. Jalloud defected this month. The battle for Bab al-Azizya, in which mortars, heavy machine-guns and anti-aircraft guns were used, came hours after Gadhafi’s son and heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, made a dramatic appearance in Tripoli as a free man, thwarting Libyan rebel claims he had been captured and rallying supporters.


Francois Mori - Associated Press

Libyan rebels break their Ramadan fast at a checkpoint in the Bab El Bahrah district in Tripoli, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011.


Francois Mori - Associated Press

Libyan rebels man a checkpoint in the Bab El Bahrah district of Tripoli, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011.


Farther east from Tripoli, the rebels reported territorial gains at the expense of the regime forces. Mohammed al-Rijail, a rebel spokesman in Benghazi, said rebel fighters have advanced to al-Aqaila, some 25 miles from the oil port city of Ras Lanouf. “There was no resistance and no fighting as Gadhafi forces retreated to Ras Lanouf,” he said.


Francois Mori - Associated Press

A Libyan rebel mans a checkpoint position at Bab El Bahrah district in Tripoli.

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