Moammar Gadhafi’s regime appeared to be on the verge of collapse yesterday as Libyan rebels streamed into Tripoli with little sign of resistance, despite a call by the country’s leader for citizens to take up arms.
Three of Gadhafi’s sons — including his right-hand man, Saif al-Islam — were reportedly captured, and his presidential guards surrendered to opposition fighters, the Al Arabiya TV network reported.
“The territory [Gadhafi] controls is shrinking fast, his closest allies are packing their bags, and the people of Tripoli are rising,” said NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.
“The sooner he realizes he cannot win, the better — so that the Libyan people can be spared further bloodshed and suffering.”
In a audio address broadcast on state television yesterday, Gadhafi insisted he was still in Tripoli and would remain there “until the end.”
“I am giving the order to open the weapons stockpiles,” Gadhafi said. “I call on all Libyans to join this fight. Those who are afraid, give your weapons to your mothers or sisters.”
The Washington Post, citing Western intelligence sources, reported that Gadhafi’s family has been money and other assets outside the country over several days in anticipation of the regime’s collapse.
A convoy of rebels entered a western neighborhood in Tripoli, firing their weapons into the air, a witness said. Sky television said last night some fighters were only 5 miles from the city’s center and were being welcomed by civilians pouring into the streets.
“If we don’t act, they will burn Tripoli,” Gadhafi said. “There will be no more water, food, electricity or freedom.”