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Terrorism & Security

Libyan rebels prepare for 'final phase' in Tripoli battle

Libyan rebels say that they are preparing to wipe out the last few pockets of Qaddafi loyalists in the city, but a swift victory is not certain – raising concerns about an insurgency.

By Staff writer / August 25, 2011

Libyan rebel fighters arrive at the Abu Slim area Thursday as they fight for the final push to flush out Muammar Qaddafi's forces in Tripoli.

Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

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Libya's rebels are preparing for an all-out assault on the parts of Tripoli still in the hands of Muammar Qaddafi's regime, aiming to wipe out the last bit of resistance to total rebel control of the city.

But a swift rebel victory over Qaddafi loyalists, both in Tripoli and in other pockets of the country still firmly in the grip of regime supporters, is not by any means a foregone conclusion, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Rebels' continuing difficulty in bringing Libya under control raises the specter of a longer conflict – with the Gadhafi regime's collapse potentially launching a new stage of unraveling in a tribal country with strong regional differences. Some rebel leaders and Western officials worry that, particularly as Col. Gadhafi eludes capture, his well-trained fighters could launch an armed insurgency from bases such as Sirte, the home base of Col. Gadhafi's tribe.

In preparation for what Reuters is calling the "final phase" of the battle for Tripoli, rebels were making plans today to take out the snipers posted throughout the city. However, the most-wanted target, Mr. Qaddafi, remains elusive.

Rebel commanders say they believe Qaddafi is still in Tripoli, barricaded in one of the few areas of the city his loyalists still control. US officials have said they also believe he is in the capital. There are as many as 40 compounds he could be hiding in – most of which are in Tripoli, according to The Washington Post.

The US has been vague about what its role will be in the search for Qaddafi. One official told the Post that the US would try to provide intelligence, but the US has repeatedly denied that it will send any personnel to help. Reuters reports that NATO is assisting with intelligence and reconnaissance.

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