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Latest In Libya: Rebels Take Over Gadhafi Compound

Young boys on a dark street in Tripoli late last night (Aug. 22, 2011). Fighting flared again today in the Libyan capital.
Young boys on a dark street in Tripoli late last night (Aug. 22, 2011). Fighting flared again today in the Libyan capital.

The situation in Libya remains very fluid. As NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro said on Morning Edition, there was "a stunning turn of events" on Monday. While it first appeared that opposition forces might soon take control of Tripoli and that they had captured two or three of Moammar Gadhafi's sons, now it seems that some of Gadhafi's armed loyalists are fighting back and — as we reported last evening — Gadhafi's son Saif has been moving about in Tripoli, taunting the opposition and declaring that his father is safe.

"What we saw yesterday was in fact a city in chaos," added Lourdes, who was in Tripoli for much of the day on Monday. By evening it did not appear to be a capital about to fall to the anti-Gadhafi forces.

We'll watch the situation throughout the day and update this post with the latest, so make sure you hit refresh to see the latest.

Update at 6:18 p.m. ET. Transition Begins Immediately:

The leader of the National Transitional Council, Mahmoud Gebril ElWarfally, said during a news conference that Libya's transition "begins immediately" and said the council was organizing a meeting to raise $2.4 billion in aid for the country.

Al Jazeera reports:

Speaking at a press conference in Doha, the number two in the National Transitional Council said "we will build a new Libya, with all Libyans as brothers for a united, civil and democratic nation.

"This is the new Libya where every Libyan works as a beloved brother, hand in hand, to serve the interests of the nation to ensure equality and justice for everyone.

"We have to be transparent in front of the whole world. Now we have to concentrate on building and healing our wounds."

He said the meeting of donor nations on Wednesday would be "to make provisions and arrange for $2.4 billion for the NTC in order to pay salaries of Libyans before Eid and to arrange for all the medical treatment and the artificial limbs which are required for the injured."

Update at 1 p.m. ET. 'No Question' Regime Has 'Nearly' Collapsed:

The rebels have now place the Libyan independence flag atop Gadhafi's home. That news comes as a U.S. State Department spokesperson confirmed the gains.

"There's no question that the Gadhafi regime has nearly collapsed," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Update at 12:32 p.m. ET. Storming The Compound:

Al Jazeera and other news organizations are streaming footage from inside the Gadhafi compound. The images — which are likely to become iconic of this conflict — show rebels celebrating in front of the statue where Gadhafi and his family delivered speeches.

screen shot.
/ Twitter

The statue is of a golden fist crumbling a fighter jet and commemorates the bombing of the complex by the United States in the '80s. It stands in front of a blown out house called Bayt al-Sumoud, which translates to house of resistance.

Here's a screengrab taken by NPR's Ahmed Al Omran of one rebel trying to tear apart the statue:

And another one tweeted by the Washington Post's Anup Kaphle:

Update at 11:11 a.m. ET. A Bitter Fight:

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro has been driving through the streets of Tripoli. She told the network's Newscast unit that heavy plumes of black smoke have blanketed the city as a "bitter fight" takes place at Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound.

Lourdes confirmed earlier reports that NATO had bombed a part of the complex and that allowed rebels to make their way into the compound, but Lourdes reports al-Aziziya is huge and sprawling and will take "quite some time to take it over."

As for the rest of Tripoli, Lourdes reports it's still in chaos. She reports that fighting is still going on near the airport and at Green Square. She says mortars have been landing in residential areas and there is a "prevalence of fear."

Update at 10:28 a.m. ET. Rebels Claim They Breached Gadhafi Compound:

Sky News along with Reuters and others are reporting that rebels have breached the first gate of Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound. According to Sky News, the breakthrough came after a NATO strike.

What's clear is that a huge firefight is going on outside the compound. CNN's Matthew Chance is at the Rixos Hotel, which is close by and he reports on Twitter that he can hear heavy fighting outside:

In #Rixos huddled in basement of hotel. Incoming artillery fire in area around #Gadhafi compound.

Sniper took pot-shot at hotel & we all took cover. Journalists in #Rixos are fine, keeping together but have limited perspective on news.

Our Original Post Continues:

Today, the BBC reports, there's been "renewed gunfire, mortars and grenades in the area around the Rixos hotel, one of the pockets still held by Gaddafi forces." The Guardian's Luke Harding, who is in Tripoli, reported earlier that it "is very hard to make sense of what is going on, but the battle is still going on."

"This is going to be a bitter, difficult battle," Lourdes told the NPR Newsdesk earlier today. "Tripoli is the heart of Gadhafi's control."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the International Criminal Court — which, it was reported on Monday, had confirmed Saif's arrests — now says it never had "official" confirmation from opposition forces that Gadhafi's son was in their custody. As Eyder reported last evening, opposition leaders are now claiming that Saif had been "arrested," but later escaped.

Note: NPR follows Associated Press style on the spelling of Gadhafi's name. Other news outlets use different spellings.

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