Video: Gadhafi launches missile at rebels

  1. Closed captioning of: Gadhafi launches missile at rebels

    >>> now to the news from overseas, escalating tension tonight in libya. once again there are reports that moammar gadhafi fired scud missile at rebel forces for the first time in this ongoing civil war . we haven't heard that had hardware mentioned since the start of the iraq war . it missed the darket, landing in the desert instead. tonight, the rebels claim to be preparing an assault on the capital city tripoli.

Image: A young man in Tripoli
Dario Lopez-Mills  /  AP
In this photo taken on a government-organized tour, a young man sits at the main Green Square Monday in Tripoli, Libya.
updated 8/16/2011 7:17:15 PM ET 2011-08-16T23:17:15

The day Libyan rebels advanced into the strategic city of Zawiya, Moammar Gadhafi's forces clamped down on the local hospital.

They forced doctors to perform hours of consecutive surgeries, put snipers on the roof and an anti-aircraft gun near the entrance, two doctors who managed to escape said Tuesday.

As the Libyan regime's grip on this coastal city of 200,000 is slipping, stories are seeping out about the reign of fear and intimidation imposed here over the past five months.

Residents interviewed in rebel-controlled parts of Zawiya gave accounts of mass arrests in the preceding months. A woman said her son-in-law and two of his relatives were arrested and killed by Gadhafi agents. A rebel fighter said he was subjected to beatings and electric shocks.

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Zawiya had risen up forcefully against Gadhafi when anti-regime protests swept the country in mid-February, but was reoccupied in a brutal crackdown in mid-March. Rebels pushed into the city on Saturday, but after four days of fighting Gadhafi's soldiers still cling to positions in eastern areas, including the hospital.

Dr. Hamid al-Shawish, a 30-year-old surgeon, said the regime had clamped down hard on Zawiya since March, arresting anyone suspected of sympathizing with the rebels. At least 20 doctors and nurses were seized from the hospital, and some remain missing, al-Shawish said.

He and a colleague, gynecologist Mohammed al-Kum, said regime forces were a constant presence in the hospital, replacing the director with one of their own and ordering medical staff around.

Influx of dead and wounded
On Saturday morning, there was an influx of dead and wounded regime soldiers, and civilian patients were ordered to leave the hospital to make room, the two doctors said. Troops closed down the pediatrics and gynecology wards, among others.

Story: Libyan rebels fight for gateway town to Tripoli

The bodies of at least 30 Gadhafi soldiers were brought in that day, along with some 150 wounded, said al-Shawish, who was in charge of the emergency room. Rebels often allege that most of Gadhafi's troops are African mercenaries, but al-Shawish said there were many Libyans among the wounded soldiers.

The soldiers ordered doctors and nurses to stay on their jobs, according to al-Shawish, who said he performed 15 operations between 11 a.m. Saturday and 3 a.m. Sunday. He said three more surgeons worked on other floors.

Al-Shawish said that while he was working, armed soldiers wandered in an out of the emergency room. "Anyone who was not operating was told to operate," said al-Shawish, but added that he did not have guns pointed at him.

Gadhafi's men posted snipers on the roof and an anti-aircraft gun in a yard, right outside the window of the emergency room, the doctor said. Gadhafi's forces fired randomly at nearby houses, but he did not hear incoming rebel fire, he said.

Story: US officials: Gadhafi fires first scud missile

Al-Kum said he was able to sneak out of the hospital on Sunday. Al-Shawish said he recognized a soldier guarding the hospital gate as the father of an infant he had circumcised. After initially refusing to let the doctor go, the guard relented and let al-Shawish walk out Sunday, with a promise that he would return shortly.

Since their escape, the two doctors have been working at a clinic in Bir Moammar, a rebel-controlled village about five miles south of Zawiya.

Anger against the regime runs deep
Anger against the regime runs deep in Zawiya, where residents said regime supporters supplied Gadhafi soldiers with lists of suspected rebel sympathizers to arrest.

Abdel Moez Ramadan, a 20-year-old fighter, said he was imprisoned for three months, suffering beatings and electrical shock during the first 20 days. He said his interrogators demanded that he chant slogans in praise of Gadhafi.

After his release, he fled to the rebels' mountain stronghold and joined the fight to free Zawiya, he said. "I want to take revenge for my country," he said.

Jamila, a 48-year-old housewife, said her son-in-law, along with two of his relatives, was arrested and killed by Gadhafi agents in June. Her 22-year-old son was detained for nine days because he had cell phone footage of anti-Gadhafi protests, said Jamila, who did not want to give her last name for fear of retribution.

With fighting continuing in the city, it was impossible to verify these and other accounts independently.

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Jamila said she and her family moved three times since Saturday, and are now staying at a daughter's house on the outskirts of Zawiya. However, she said they might move again, because several rockets struck late Monday in a nearby orchard.

A 15-year-old boy in Jamila's extended family said that during the past five months, he and his classmates were frequently ordered to participate in pro-Gadhafi marches. He said he could not stay away, noting that he knew of others his age who had been arrested, but that in a small show of defiance, he did not join the chanting.

When the hundreds of rebel fighters entered Zawiya on Saturday, the boy said he painted his lower left arm in green, red and black, the rebel colors, and waved at them, since he did not have a cloth flag.

The rebel push came from the south, part of a three-week-old offensive launched from their stronghold in Libya's western mountains dozens of miles inland. With that advance, the rebels made some of their most significant territorial gains in the civil war and are now just 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Gadhafi's stronghold, the capital of Tripoli. Rebel commanders have said they hope to take Tripoli by the end of the month.

Regime soldiers have been pounding Zawiya with Grad rockets, mortar rounds and artillery shells, sending many civilians fleeing south toward the safety of the mountain range. On Monday, 15 people were killed in an artillery strike.

A turning of the tables
And in a turning of the tables, rebels have begun hunting down Gadhafi sympathizers in Zawiya. On Monday, Khaled al-Azzawi, a 37-year-old teacher, sat at a desk on a sidewalk along the main road into the city from the south, compiling lists of names of regime supporters provided by city residents. Al-Azzawi said some 40 on a list of about 300 had already been arrested.

Several suspects were caught Tuesday and taken to a building next to the Bir Moammar clinic.

On Tuesday, al-Shawish said he believed Gadhafi's 42-year-rule was almost over. "God willing, this is the end, and we will go to Tripoli," he said, as the thuds of mortars and rockets were heard in the distance.

As the rebels push forward, there are new efforts by a U.N. envoy to Libya to negotiate an end to the civil war, according to a Tunisian security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Abdel-Elah al-Khatib, Jordan's former foreign minister, arrived in the Tunisian capital of Tunis on Monday for separate meetings with representatives of the Gadhafi regime and the rebels, the Tunisian official said.

The envoy did not identify those he met or say what they discussed, speaking to reporters after a meeting Tuesday with Tunisian Foreign Minister Mouldi Kefi al-Khatib.

However, the Tunisian official said the discussions late Monday centered on a "peaceful transition" in Libya. The rebels reacted angrily to the proposal, with one member of their delegation throwing a shoe during the meeting to show his deep disdain.

The Tunisian security official said the U.N. envoy might also meet with a representative of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Chavez's envoy has been on the Tunisian isle of Djerba for the past few days.

A rebel spokesman in France denied that members of the rebels' interim government, the National Transitional Council, participated in the Djerba meeting. Mansour Saif al-Nasr told RFI radio on Tuesday that "Libyan political personalities" were involved, but not NTC representatives.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Libya's uprising against Gadhafi

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  1. People gathering in Benghazi, Libya in mid-February of 2011 as protest against the rule of Moammar Gadhafi grew, in part triggered by the arrest of human rights activist Fethi Tarbel. EDITOR'S NOTE: The content, date and location of this image could not be independently verified. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Buildings at the entrance to a security forces compound burn in Benghazi, Feb. 21, 2011. Libyan protesters celebrated in the streets of Benghazi, claiming control of the country's second largest city after bloody fighting, and anti-government unrest spread to the capital with clashes in Tripoli's main square for the first time. (Alaguri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi speaks on state television. Feb. 22, and signalled his defiance over a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule. (Libya TV via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Libyan U.N. ambassador Shalgham is embraced by Dabbashi, Libya's deputy U.N. Ambassador after denouncing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for the first time during a Security Council meeting at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York on Feb. 25. Shalgam, a longtime friend and member of Gadhafi's inner circle, had previously refused to denounce Gadhafi. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Thousands of Libyans gather for the Muslim Friday prayers outside the courthouse in the eastern city of Benghazi on Feb. 25, 2011. Perhaps 8,000 people gathered for the midday prayers with a local imam, who delivered his sermon alongside the coffins of three men killed in the violent uprising that routed Gadhafi loyalists from Benghazi. (Gianluigi Guercia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Rebels hold a young man at gunpoint, who they accuse of being a loyalist to Gadhafi, between the towns of Brega and Ras Lanuf, March 3, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Pro-Gadhafi soldiers and supporters gather in Green Square in Tripoli, March 6, 2011. Thousands of Moammar Gadhafi's supporters poured into the streets of Tripoli, waving flags and firing their guns in the air in the Libyan leader's main stronghold, claiming overnight military successes. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Rebel fighters jump away from shrapnel during heavy shelling by forces loyal to Gadhafi near Bin Jawad, March 6. Rebels in east Libya regrouped and advanced on Bin Jawad after Gadhafi forces ambushed rebel fighters and ejected them from the town earlier in the day. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Libyan rebel fighters take cover as a bomb dropped by an airforce fighter jet explodes near a checkpoint on the outskirts of the oil town of Ras Lanuf on March 7, 2011. (Marco Longari / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Libyan rebels fire rockets at government troops on the frontline. March 9, 2011 near Ras Lanuf. The rebels pushed back government troops westward towards Ben Jawat. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Libyan government soldiers aboard tanks at the west gate of the town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Libya's army pounded an opposition-held city in the country's west and battled fighters trying to block its advance on a rebel bastion in the east amid flagging diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed. EDITOR'S NOTE: Picture taken on a government guided tour. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Libyan people in Benghazi celebrate after the United Nations Security Council authorized a no-fly zone over Libya, March 18. Thousands of Libyans erupted in cheers as the news flashed on a giant screen in besieged Benghazi late March 17. After weeks of discussion, the UN Security Council banned flights in Libya's airspace and authorized "all necessary means" to implement the ban, triggering intervention by individual countries and organizations like NATO. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A picture combo shows a Libyan jet bomber crashing after being apparently shot down in Benghazi on March 19, 2011 as the Libyan rebel stronghold came under attack. Air strikes and sustained shelling of the city's south sent thick smoke into the sky. (Patrick Baz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Residents of Benghazi flee the city along the road toward Tobruk, in an attempt to escape fighting in their city, March 19, 2011. Gaddafi's troops pushed into the outskirts of Benghazi, a city of 670,000 people, in an apparent attempt to pre-empt Western military intervention expected after a meeting of Western and Arab leaders in Paris. (Reuters TV) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Gadhafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A rebel fighter carries his weapon outside the northeastern Libyan town of Ajdabiyah, March 21, 2011. A wave of air strikes hit Gaddafi's troops around Ajdabiyah, a strategic town in the barren, scrub of eastern Libya that rebels aim to retake and where their fighters said they need more help. (Finbarr O'reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A Libyan rebel prays next to his gun on the frontline of the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, March 21, 2011. The international military intervention in Libya is likely to last "a while," a top French official said, echoing Moammar Gadhafi's warning of a long war ahead as rebels, energized by the strikes on their opponents. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Libyan rebels retreat as mortars from Gadhafi's forces are fired on them near the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, March 22, 2011. Coalition forces bombarded Libya for a third straight night, targeting the air defenses and forces of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, stopping his advances and handing some momentum back to the rebels, who were on the verge of defeat. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A Libyan man is comforted by hospital staff as he reacts after identifying his killed brother in the morgue of the Jalaa hospital in Benghazi, March 22, 2011. His brother was killed earlier in fighting around the city of Ajdabiya. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Volunteer fighters training at a rebel army training camp in Benghazi, March 29, 2011. Pro-government forces intensified their attacks on Libyan rebels, driving them back over ground they had taken in recent days. The rebels had reached Nawfaliya, but pulled back to Bin Jawad. (Manu Brabo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Smoke billows as seven explosions were reported in the tightly-guarded residence of leader Moammar Gadhafi and military targets in the suburb of Tajura. Two explosions also rocked the Libyan capital Tripoli on March 29, 2011, as NATO-led coalition aircraft had been seen in the skies over the capital. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A Libyan rebel urges people to leave, as shelling from Gadhafi's forces started landing on the frontline outside of Bin Jawaad, 93 miles east of Sirte, March 29, 2011. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. General Abdel-Fattah Younis, former interior minister in the Gadhafi regime who defected in the early days of the uprising, is greeted by Libyan rebels at the front line near Brega, April 1, 2011. (Altaf Qadri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Libyan men show the V-sign for victory as they stand on the deck of a Turkish ship arriving from Misrata to the port of Benghazi who were evacuated along with others the injured in the fighting between rebel and Gadhafi forces, April 03, 2011. The Turkish vessel took hundreds of people wounded in the Libyan uprising for treatment in Turkey from the two cities of Misrata and Benghazi. (Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A wounded prisoner from Gadhafi's forces is transported in the back of a pickup truck by rebels, on the way to a hospital for treatment, half way between Brega and Ajdabiya, April 9, 2011. Rebels say they took two prisoners after a clash with soldiers near Brega's university outside the government-controlled oil facilities, marking a noticeable advance by rebels. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. In this image taken from TV, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi makes a pubic appearance in Tripoli, April 14 2011. Gadhafi defiantly waved at his supporters while being driven around Tripoli while standing up through the sunroof of a car. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. A rebel fighter celebrates as his comrades fire a rocket barrage toward the positions of government troops April 14, 2011, west of Ajdabiyah. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Gadhafi supporters hold copies of his portrait as they gather at the Bab Al Azizia compound in Tripoli, April 15, 2011. Rebels held much of eastern Libya by mid-April, while Gadhafi controlled the west, with the front line shifting back and forth in the middle. (Pier Paolo Cito / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Doctors work on a baby who suffered cuts from shrapnel that blasted through the window of his home during fighting in the besieged city of Misrata, April 18, 2011. Thousands of civilians are trapped in Misrata as fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels there. The Libyan government has come under international criticism for using heavy weapons and artillery in its assault on Misrata. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. MISRATA, LIBYA - APRIL 20: Libyan rebel fighters discuss how to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from the next room during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011 in Misrata, Libya. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi April 20, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building that fought back instead of surrendering, firing on the rebels in the building and seriously wounding two of them during the standoff. Fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels ensconced there. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images) (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Libyan rebel fighters carry out a comrade wounded during an effort to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from a building during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Gaddafi, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building where they fought back instead of surrendering. Two rebels were seriously wounded during the standoff. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Rebels tread carefully as they prepare to invade a house where soldiers from the pro-government forces had their base in the Zwabi area of Misrata on April 24, 2011. (Andre Liohn / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Libyans inspect damage and an unexploded missile at the Gadhafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli, May 1, 2011. Gadhafi escaped a NATO missile strike in Tripoli that killed one of his sons and three young grandchildren. EDITOR'S NOTE: Photo taken on a government guided tour. (Darko Bandic / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Moammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, center, leaves the funeral of his brother Saif Al-Arab Gadhafi, who was killed during air strikes by coalition forces, at the El Hani cemetery in Tripoli, May 2, 2011. Crowds chanting Gadhafi's name gathered in Tripoli for the funeral of his son and three grandchildren. (Louafi Larbi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Fleeing migrants and Libyans are seen on board an International Organization of Migration ship leaving the port of Misrata on May 4, 2011, as Gadhafi forces continued to pound the city. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Libyan men watch as the main fuel depot in Libya's third largest city, Misrata, burns following a bombing by Gadhafi's forces on May 7, 2011. Libyan regime forces shelled fuel depots in Misrata and dropped mines into its harbor using helicopters bearing the Red Cross emblem, rebels said as they braced for a ground assault. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Libyan rebels celebrate near the airport of Misrata on May 11, 2011 after capturing the city's strategic airport following a fierce battle with Moammar Gadhafi's troops -- their first significant advance in weeks. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Women react after a protest against Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Benghazi, Libya, on May 16, 2011. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, announced that he would seek arrest warrants against the leader of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and the country's intelligence chief on charges of crimes against humanity. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Tripoli street in Misrata is seen from the terrace of a building used by Gadhafi’s snipers before the rebels took control of the area on May 22, 2011. The weeks-long siege of the city ended in mid-May and Tripoli Street was the site of the fiercest fighting in the battle and a turnin point in the war. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. A rebel fighter gives water to a soldier loyal to Gadhafi after he was wounded and then captured near the front line, west of Misrata on May 23, 2011. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. An uncle, left, prays over the body of one and a half year-old Mohsen Ali al-Sheikh during a washing ritual during the funeral at his family's house in Misrata, May 27, 2011. The child was killed by a gunshot during clashes between rebels and pro-Gadhafi forces earlier in the day. (Wissam Saleh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. The body of a drowned refugee floats near a capsized ship which was transporting an estimated 850 refugees from Libya, approximately 22 miles north of the Tunisian islands of Kerkennah, June 4, 2011. At least 578 survived the sinking. (Lindsay Mackenzie / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. A photograph taken from a video by a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows Mutassem Gadhafi, son of Moammar Gadhafi, drinking water and smoking a cigarette following his capture and shortly before his death, in Sirte, Oct. 20, 2011. (- / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. A photograph taken from mobile phone video of a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows the capture of Moammar Gadhafi in Sirte on Oct. 20, 2011. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. This image provided by the Libyan Youth Group on Nov. 19, 2011, shows Seif al-Islam Gadhafi after he was captured near the Niger border with Libya. Moammar Gadhafi's son, the only wanted member of the ousted ruling family to remain at large, was captured as he traveled with aides in a convoy in Libya's southern desert. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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