Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Tripoli 'free of Gaddafi forces'

Libyan rebels gesture as they change the flag in Abu Salim district in Tripoli (AP)
Libyan rebels gesture as they change the flag in Abu Salim district in Tripoli (AP)

Rebels claim Tripoli is free of Gaddafi's forces after taking control of a suburb near the Libyan capital's airport in overnight fighting.

Residents of Qasr bin Ghashir celebrated by firing guns and anti-aircraft weapons into the air and beating portraits of the toppled leader with their shoes.

The scene in the impoverished rural area 12 miles south of the capital was a sign of the rebels' optimism after days of fierce fighting sent Gaddafi underground.

Residents of Tripoli also celebrated and the capital appeared largely under rebel control.

Omar al-Ghuzayl, a 45-year-old rebel field commander, said his force has been able to push Gaddafi fighters "completely outside Tripoli".

Gaddafi's whereabouts remain unknown. Nato and rebel fighters are focusing on his home town of Sirte, his last major bastion of support.

But while fighting has died down, much of the capital remained without electricity and water and streets are strewn with torched cars and stinking garbage.

Corpses crowd abandoned hospitals and stores remain closed, while bombed planes sit on Tripoli's airport runway.

"We have a huge shortage of gas," Tripoli resident Osama Shallouf said.

The shortages have made it difficult to bake the traditional pastries and buy new clothes to prepare for next week's Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

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