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Terrorism & Security

Qaddafi urges resistance as Libyan rebels make Tripoli their own

The rebel government is preparing to move many of its ministries from Benghazi to Tripoli, even as Muammar Qaddafi's regime vowed to fight for years.

By Staff writer / August 24, 2011

Rebel fighters celebrate as they stand on top of the monument inside Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Bab al-Aziziya in Tripoli, LIbya, Wednesday, Aug. 24. The rebels say they have now taken control of nearly all of Tripoli, but sporadic gunfire could still be heard Wednesday, and Qaddafi loyalists fired shells and assault rifles at fighters who had captured the Libyan leader's personal compound one day earlier.

Sergey Ponomarev/AP

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Libyan rebels' seizure yesterday of the symbolic Bab al-Aziziya compound, the heart of Col. Muammar Qaddafi's regime, has solidified their momentum and bolstered Libyans' confidence that the 42-year leader's reign is over.

But while the eccentric Libyan leader may be finished, he has not yet been found. So long as he remains at large, he remains a potentially destabilizing factor, the Associated Press reports. The concern is that it could take months to find Colonel Qaddafi, which would jeopardize the country's stability during the transition period and perhaps embolden his remaining supporters to strike back.

"It is too early to say that the battle of Tripoli is over," says rebel government leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil. "That won't happen until Qaddafi and his sons are captured."

In a radio address yesterday, Qaddafi chastised loyalists for letting the rebels "wreak havoc" on Tripoli and said he had left Bab al-Aziziya – a military and residential compound from which Qaddafi, his family, and his closest advisers had ruled the country. His government vowed to fight on, even if it takes years to defeat the uprising that began six months ago.

"We will turn Libya into a volcano of lava and fire under the feet of the invaders and their treacherous agents," said government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim.

According to Mr. Ibrahim, thousands of Qaddafi loyalists are in the capital, prepared to fight at the right moment, and thousands more are streaming into Tripoli to help them, The Wall Street Journal reports.

One of the pockets of the city remaining in their hands is the Rixos Hotel and its perimeter. They have surrounded the hotel with gunmen and trapped foreign journalists inside.

But despite such pockets of resistance, rebels and their international supporters are swiftly moving to shore up the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the sovereign government of a new Libya.

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