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Further coverage in a new diary by gchaucer2

And here: Witnessing Revolution #227: Battle of Tripoli or #MermaidDawn


Previous Title: Breaking: The Battle for Tripoli Has Begun.

Previous Title: Breaking: Has The Battle for Tripoli Already Begun? (Now seemingly confirmed by multiple sources).

See update below at 2:14 from Juan Cole for "All Hell" quote

"Operation Mermaid" (!) -- See update at 3:01

Richard Engel of NBC News is tweeting that battles have indeed started..  These tweets are all dated within an hour of posting this diary.

richardengelnbc Richard Engel
massive amounts of gunfire in air.. reports rebels started assault on #tripoli

and then

richardengelnbc Richard Engel
reports of fightng in souq al jumaa, feshloum, tajoura, zawit al-dahmani in #tripoli

richardengelnbc Richard Engel
rebels report fighting in at least three #tripoli neighborhoods

matthewwprice Matthew Price
 by richardengelnbc
Lot of heavy gunfire and explosions now being heard at #Rixos from Northerly direction. Ie towards centre #Tripoli #Libya

Plus more rumors of Quaddafi fleeing the city:

richardengelnbc Richard Engel
@libya libyan tv reporting qaddafi has fled with two sons

richardengelnbc Richard Engel
#libya reports qaddafi may have left.. could be just rumors., people celebrating..

Things seem to be happening very quickly.  Here's a great map of the situation as it was two day ago (too big to embed).  But that map was already obsolete as of yesterday, with opposition forces having taken Ziltan, Zawiyah, and Brega and now it seems fighting has broken out in Tripoli itself.  

Whether this is the result of rebel troops coming in from Zawiyah (only 30 miles away) or people rising in revolt from within the city, or both is unclear, although Engel just tweeted:

richardengelnbc Richard Engel
#tripoli. earlier today saw several hundred fighters heading into zawiya.. on way to tripoli

Here's the latest from Al Jazeera's blog, confirming Engel's reports:

Multiple explosions rocked Tripoli on Saturday night and repeated anti-aircraft fire was seen streaking across the sky, a Reuters reporter in the city said.

Sustained gunfire and thuds were heard in the distance and residents of Tajoura, on Tripoli's eastern outskirts, reported clashes were under way.

Blasts and sustained gunfire heard in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, according to a witness who spoke to the Reuters news agency.


1:38 PM PT: Tweet from Juan Cole confirming Tripoli happenings:


jricole Juan Cole

AJA: Qaddafi forces withdraw from Suq al-Juma, Tripoli; working class neighborhood in capital liberated #Libya #Feb17 #Gaddafi #MermaidDawn

10 minutes ago

1:44 PM PT: Xinhua reports:


BENGHAZI, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Libyan rebel fighters took control of a weapons depot in the capital of Tripoli where demonstrations took place in several blocks, the rebel-controlled Libya TV said on Saturday.

1:51 PM PT: Rebels suffer setback in Brega?


Yesterday, the industrial zone was under our complete control, but the truth is that today the situation has changed due to heavy artillery shelling," rebel military commander Colonel Omar Bani told AFP. "We withdrew to the eastern part of the industrial zone," he said.

Earlier, rebel chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil said Colonel Gaddafi was close to defeat, as rumours swirled that he may be looking for an exit. "We have contacts with people from the inner circle of Gaddafi," he said. "All evidence (shows) that the end is very near, with God's grace."


But he warned that the fight for Tripoli would be a tough one.  "I expect a catastrophic end for him and his inner circle, and I expect that he will a create a situation within Tripoli. I hope my expectation is wrong," he said.



1:55 PM PT: Tweets from Feb17Voices


feb17voices Feb 17 voices

AJA: the operation started today in #Tajoura #Tripoli #Libya

8 minutes ago

feb17voices Feb 17 voices

AJA: Tripoli battalion leader live: we are well equiped to overtake #Gaddafi forces in #Tripoli #Libya

13 minutes ago


feb17voices Feb 17 voices

LPC #Tripoli Expat: "Every family I call has at least one member out on the streets." #Libya

16 minutes ago

»


feb17voices Feb 17 voices

AJA: #Tripoli battalion leader live: asks civilians to take shelter in the coming days, avoid places near military installations. #Libya



2:00 PM PT: Reports of gunfire, casualties:


feb17voices Feb 17 voices

LPC #Tripoli:substantial fire at Zawi Damni (زاوية الدهماني; near Ben Ashour) #Libya

feb17voices Feb 17 voices

AJA: more casualities in Fashloom and Zanatah#Tripoli #Libya



2:05 PM PT: A call for Tripoli to rise?


ChangeInLibya Mhalwes

 by richardengelnbc

BREAKING via AJA: TRIPOLI RESIDENTS GETTING SMSes from REGIME: "ERADICATE THE 'TRAITORS' FROM YOUR STREETS. FINISH THEM OFF." #libya #feb17

2:07 PM PT: Reuters


Aug 20 (Reuters) - Crowds of opponents of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi were in the streets of the capital Tripoli late on Saturday and gunfire could be heard from multiple locations, two residents told Reuters.

Mobile telephone subscribers received a text message from the government urging them to "go out in the squares and streets to eliminate the armed agents," according to one resident who received the message on his phone.



2:14 PM PT:
jricole Juan Cole

@seedsown Can't confirm Gaddafi has fled from any reliable source, but all hell has broken loose in Tripoli #Libya #Feb17 #Gaddafi

2:21 PM PT: Engel again:


richardengelnbc Richard Engel

rebel commander tells NBC NEWS "Zero hour is beginning now"

richardengelnbc Richard Engel

#libya we can confirm rebels fighting in tripoli, in at least four areas


matthewwprice Matthew Price

 by richardengelnbc

#Tripoli tonight #Libya Heavy gunfire sustained fire. Moussa calling press conference now. Diplomats here too at #Rixos



2:23 PM PT: Wow.


feb17voices Feb 17 voices

Multiple LPCs describe a very large number of casualties in #Tajoura, describe numbers in the 110 -130 range. #Libya

3 minutes ago

feb17voices Feb 17 voices

AJA: opposition fighters break into the house of Mansour AL Dho, "leader of #Tripoli Katayeb Amnya" (Security Forces) #Libya

5 minutes ago


feb17voices Feb 17 voices

LPC #Tripoli caller: Lights in caller's area being turned off as sky is lit by successive explosions. #Libya



2:27 PM PT: BBC


Explosions and sustained gunfire have been heard in parts of Tripoli, as rebels close in on the Libyan capital. A BBC correspondent in the city says it sounded like exchange of fire rather than celebratory gunshots...

 The BBC's Matthew Price in Tripoli says the momentum is clearly against Col Gaddafi and his supporters. Our correspondent says that the rebels now have better weaponry. He adds that either pro-Gaddafi forces have pulled back in places like Zlitan in order to prepare for a fresh offensive or, after months of Nato air strikes, elements of the army may simply be too weak to fight on.



2:29 PM PT:

feb17voices Feb 17 voices

AJA appears to be playing live communications intercepts (on walkie talkies) from Gaddafi forces. #Libya

3 minutes ago
feb17voices Feb 17 voices

AJA: Abdujalil live: urging #Gaddafi forces to surrender, states he understands they were 'forced into' fighting #Libya


2:36 PM PT:
jricole Juan Cole

AJA: Qaddafi command center in Tripoli overheard complaining of lack of ammunition, lack of fuel to move vehicles #Libya #Feb17

2:43 PM PT:
feb17voices Feb 17 voices

AJA: Suliman Dogha ["Activist"]: independence flag seen raised on 6 mosques in #Tripoli #Libya

2:50 PM PT: From the Al Jazeera blog: Check out the awesome picture of a crowd celebrating in Benghazi


Battles are now are taking place in Az Zawiyah and in an area known as the 27 bridge.

"In the last hour we saw hundreds of fighters drive down from the western mountains, down to Az Zawiyah. Yhey're sending reinforcements  According to field commanders, there's going to be a major offensive early on Sunday - they're going to push towards Tripoli.

"Opposition forces have still not yet been able to reach the outskirts of Tripoli. They launched a major offensive last Saturday. They entered the city of Az Zawiyah ... but Gaddafi army put up stiff resistance...


"I can still hear the sound of grad rockets landing in this city but rebel fighters have pushed them [Gaddafi's forces] to the east. They've taken control of the city centre and of the main hospital ... now they're trying to take control of the area called 27 bridge. They call that bridge so because it's exactly 27 km from Tripoli."



2:56 PM PT:
feb17voices Feb 17 voices

AJA: Call w/ activist in #Tajoura: Aradah area under Opposition control, Aradah bridge struck by a rocket. Doesn't know who fired. #Tripoli

1 minute ago

feb17voices Feb 17 voices

AJA: Call in #Tajoura with a female activist: 133 killed in Souq al Jumah and Arada areas #Tripoli #Libya



3:01 PM PT: Toronto Star


Gun battles and rounds of mortar shelling were heard clearly at the hotel where foreign correspondents stay in the capital. Explosions were heard in the area as NATO aircraft carried out heavy bombing runs after nightfall.

Col. Fadlallah Haroun, a rebel military commander in their stronghold of Benghazi said this marks the beginning of Operation Mermaid — a nickname for the capital city — an assault on Tripoli co-ordinated with NATO.


Haroun told The Associated Press that weapons were assembled and sent by tugboats to Tripoli on Friday night.


“The fighters in Tripoli are rising up in two places at the moment — some are in the Tajoura neighbourhood and the other is near the Matiga (international) airport,” he told the Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera.



3:05 PM PT: Reuters


Aug 20 (Reuters) - The sound of gunfire subsided in the Libyan capital, though occasional shots could still be heard, a Reuters reporter in the city said on Saturday.

"It's become much less. Almost a minute went by without the sound of gunfire," said the reporter. Two Tripoli residents in different parts of the city also said the sound of shooting, which earlier had been intense, had subsided.



3:07 PM PT:
feb17voices Feb 17 voices

LPC #Tripoli: Caller in Busita area hears amplified call from mosques for any men with arms to come into the street and fight.

3:18 PM PT: I wonder where Tajoura is.  Don't see it on Google maps of Tripoli area.


feb17voices Feb 17 voices

AlArabiya: Eyewitness: opposition fighters control most of Tajoura except an area in center still held by #Gaddafi forces #Tripoli #Libya

3:26 PM PT: Bloomberg

Libyan rebels said they’ve begun an offensive to free Tripoli from Muammar Qaddafi’s control five months after the U.S. first launched airstrikes against the leader of the North African nation.

Rebels attacked Qaddafi forces in the capital last night, fighting in the Souk Al-Jumma market area and Tajoura, an eastern suburb, Al Jazeera reported. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization carried out airstrikes against Qaddafi’s Scud missile launchers and residents received text messages urging them to join the rebellion, Al Jazeera said.

“The decisive battle to liberate Tripoli started,” Abdel Hakim Belhaj, a rebel brigade commander, said in an interview with Al Jazeera. “I would like to tell our families inside the capital that we are coming and call upon Qaddafi’s troops to abandon their weapons tonight and to join us to get rid of Qaddafi and his regime.”


3:33 PM PT:
feb17voices Feb 17 voices

OppContact: Opposition fighters used RPG to take out 2 trucks with mounted AAA under El- Sebaa( السبعة) stoplight. #Tripoli #Libya


3:40 PM PT: Is Quaddafi gone? Daily Telegraph


Following an emergency EU meeting of foreign ministers on the situation in Libya, Mr Hague was asked if Britain, or other Western countries, knew if Col. Gaddafi had left Tripoli.

“About whether Col. Gaddafi, is in Venezuela, I have no information that says he is although I have seen some information that suggests he is on his way there,” he said.

British officials stressed that Mr Hague was referring “not to media reports but information from other channels”. “This is credible information,” said a diplomat.

Doh.  That article is dated in February!  Juan Cole screwed up.

3:51 PM PT: Al Jazeera blog


Libyan rebels continued to clash with government forces controlling Mitiga airbase in Tripoli, after fighting left an unknown number of insurgents dead in the suburb of Qadah and elsewhere, an opposition activist in Tripoli told the Reuters news agency.

4:33 PM PT: Continuing covergage in a new diary by gchaucer2


Originally posted to jpmassar on Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 01:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by Eyes on Egypt and the Region.

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