Video: Rebels take compound, Gadhafi still at large

  1. Closed captioning of: Rebels take compound, Gadhafi still at large

    >>> to a dramatic day in libya . as we said, it is all over for the rule of moammar gadhafi . he turned his heavily-fortified compound into his last stand but the rebels broke through there and looted the place and carried out gold plated ak-47s and drove out in gadhafi 's cars. set a few buildings on fire, tore down some statues. richard engel spent the day reporting from inside the compound. his report for us tonight from tripoli .

    >> reporter: the battle began early this morning with nato air strikes and rebel rockets fired from afar, to weaken the defenses of gadhafi 's compound. there's a lot of stray fire in this area as this running gun battle continues. as the compound burned, the rebels advanced.

    >> gadhafi , i kill gadhafi today! [ gunfire ]

    >> reporter: gunfire ripped across tripoli and a barrage of bullets fired from inside the compound. loyalists were defending their ground. then nearly five hours after the battle began, tripoli suddenly changed.

    >> we're hearing something we haven't heard all day which is silence coming out of the compound. if you listen to it there's really not much going on right now and that, itself, is significant.

    >> reporter: there's no internet in tripoli . phone service is down and state tv is off the air so the news was spread by loud speakers from mosques. we approached the compound unsure if it had really fallen. this is one of the main gates of gadhafi 's compound. the rebels are going inside . there are bullet holes, clearly there's been a fight here. they're even moving in their heavy weapons .

    >> reporter: the rebels had taken gadhafi 's forbidden city , the loyalists inside apparently ran away. the rebels are looting gadhafi 's compound taking out everything they can carry. they have automatic weapons taken from inside the complex and -- an automatic rifle , a barretta. this is ammunition or this is a pistol? this is a pistol taken from the armory inside.

    >> reporter: at the center of the compound what may be libya 's most iconic symbol, a statue of a fist crushing a fighter jet . an american fighter jet . today, rebels kissed the ground in prayer and fired celebratory gunfire , at times, dangerously close to other revellers. but where was gadhafi ? rebels scoured the grounds and think they spot gadhafi loyalists. they fire. but the loyalists are gone. and gadhafi remains at large. the leader of libya , for 42 years, is now a fugitive. wanted by international courts and no longer considered in command by his people. today, gadhafi lost his compound and, also, his country. and now, brian, people have come to a very noisy green square . there's a tremendous amount of celebratory gunfire throughout this conflict, the rebels now truly, revolutionary. they know this is over when they enter gadhafi 's compound and that's what they did and, brian, they are already calling today " victory day ."

    >> so the celebratory gunfire and all those rounds land, i was remembering at arafat's funeral they had 16 injuries from the bullets that rained down back on the people. several of our colleagues, the western reporterers are at the main hotel, one of the last places gadhafi 's troops control and there are real concerns about their safety. they are all lumped together. there they are in a picture they tweeted out today. do you know anything more than we do here?

    >> reporter: no, we do not. we know that there are about 30 foreign journalists staying in this hotel and they are currently being held by gadhafi loyalists and they're being held against their will and among them is our colleague, john ray , who works for nbc and itn. this could be the only place where gadhafi loyalists still have a stronghold in the city.

    >> richard engel in tripoli and to our viewers, you're seeing a situation on the cusp of great change and, again, the gunfire is celebratory in nature. it is no less dangerous and kind of tricky there right now but to richard and his crew as we've wished them all day, we hope and we've taken every opportunity to make sure they stay safe.

NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 8/24/2011 1:04:47 AM ET 2011-08-24T05:04:47

As night fell on Tuesday after a day in which rebel forces gained "full control" over Moammar Gadhafi's fortified Bab al-Aziziya compound in Libya's capital, heavy fighting was reported in a southern desert city, Sabha, that rebels forecast would be Gadhafi loyalists' last redoubt.

Forces loyal to Gadhafi were shelling the towns of Zuara and Ajelat, west of Tripoli, and had gained control of parts of the town, Arabiya television reported.

In Tripoli itself, Reuters correspondents said there still appeared to be some hostile fire around the city center as darkness descended and looting broke out.

Gadhafi speaks out
Early Wednesday, the besieged dictator told state TV that his withdrawal from the bastion was a "tactical move."

He also said the compound was leveled to the ground from 64 NATO airstrikes.

He vowed death or victory in his fight against NATO "aggression."

It was not clear from the remarks when Gadhafi abandoned the Bab al-Azaziya compound.

"We are resisting with all our strength... we will either win or become martyrs, God willing," Gadhafi said.

Gadhafi was speaking on a local Tripoli radio station and his talk was reported by Al-Orouba TV.

Hours later, al-Rai TV broadcast more audio remarks from Gadhafi. "All Libyans must be present in Tripoli, young men, tribal men and women must sweep through Tripoli and comb it for traitors," the Libyan leader said. "I have been out a bit in Tripoli discreetly, without being seen by people, and ... I did not feel that Tripoli was in danger," he added.

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Gadhafi government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told Al-Orouba TV in a live interview after Gadhafi's talk was aired that the regime can resist for months or years.

Ibrahim claimed that 6,500 volunteers had entered Tripoli "in the past six hours" and have spread throughout "all the streets of Tripoli." More tribesmen were on the way to battle rebels, he said.

He threatened to turn Libya into a "burning volcano and a fire under the feet of the invaders."

Ibrahim said forces left the Bab al-Aziziya compound because it "no longer served a military or strategic purpose."

He also said that Gadhafi forces captured four "high ranking'' Qataris and one United Arab Emirates national.

Loyalists strike back
Omar al-Ghirani, a spokesman for the rebels, said loyalist forces had fired seven Grad missiles at residential areas of the capital, causing people to flee their homes in panic.

"The Al-Sour road, which is not far from (Gadhafi compound) Bab al-Aziziya ... is being pounded by Grad missiles and mortars," a witness told Arabiya television by telephone.

The station also reported that pro-Gadhafi forces are heading from Bani Walid toward Tripoli, about 60 miles northeast, to attack rebels.

He told Reuters Gadhafi forces had also fired mortar rounds in the area of the Tripoli airport.

The continued shooting suggested the six-month popular insurgency against Gaddafi, a maverick Arab nationalist who defied the West and kept an iron hand on his oil-exporting, country for four decades, had not completely triumphed yet.

Gadhafi's compound, shown in news video as heavily damaged by NATO airstrikes but with some buildings still standing, had emerged as one of the last centers of government resistance before it was overrun by rebels.

"It's over! Gaddafi is finished!" yelled a fighter over a din of celebratory gunfire across the Bab al-Aziziya compound, Gadhafi's sprawling citadel of power in the Libyan capital.

The rebels' political leaders planned high-level talks in Qatar on Wednesday with envoys of the United States, Britain, France, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates on the way ahead.

Another meeting was scheduled for Thursday in Istanbul.

Loyalists fight back

Bastion overrun
"Strategically, this means that Tripoli has fallen," NBC's Richard Engel said Tuesday from inside the compound.

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Several rebels, in a show of contempt for the man who ruled their vast North African nation for more than 40 years, placed a head seized from a statue under their feet and kicked it. One happily lifted it above his head while his comrades danced and yelled joyfully around him.

Others tore large pictures of Gadhafi and defaced a symbolic statue of a fist gripping a U.S. fighter jet. Gadhafi had the sculpture installed in front of a house in the compound that was bombed in 1986 on the orders of President Reagan.

Fighters poured into the area by the hundreds, carting off boxes of ammunition and firing weapons in the air in celebration.

There was heavy fighting before the rebels broke through the green gates of the compound and shooting broke out from other parts of the large, sprawling complex. The body of a slain Gadhafi fighter with a gaping head wound was sprawled on the floor of one of two tents that had been used for pro-regime protests. The other tent was partially on fire.

Smoky fires shrouded landscaped palms and multistory buildings of what the rebels have called Gadhafi's last hideout. Many buildings were looted, and rebel fighters walked around with high quality weapons, including advanced machine guns and, in one case, a gold-plated pistol, The New York Times reported.

Libyan rebels said on Wednesday more than 400 people were killed and at least 2,000 were injured in the fight to wrench control of Tripoli from Gadhafi, Al Arabiya Television said.

Gadhafi out of sight
Gadhafi's whereabouts remained unknown to the public early Wednesday.

Troops loyal to Gadhafi were retreating from the oil port Ras Lanuf, which rebels said they took Tuesday, to Red Valley, toward the direction of Sirte, the leader's hometown and one of the few remaining cities still under his control.

Al-Jazeera reported that pro-Gadhafi forces fired several scud missiles from Sirte late Tuesday night. A scud was also fired Monday, military officials said.

Live updates: 'We will turn Tripoli into a death trap for the rebels'

It was not immediately clear whether Gadhafi or members of his immediate family were in the compound when it was breached by the rebels, but the ferocity of the battle led many to speculate that the maverick leader may have been inside.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Russian head of the World Chess Federation, said he spoke Tuesday with Gadhafi, who remains in Tripoli and "wants to defend his country."

Ilyumzhinov's visit to Tripoli this summer was the last time the Libyan leader was seen in public after NATO airstrikes began. The two of them were filmed playing chess together on June 12.

"In Arabic language, Moammar Gadhafi said that now he is in his country, he doesn't want to leave his homeland, he wants to defend his country and he wants to thank all people in the world who support his small country, small nation who fights against countries from NATO," Ilyumzhinov said in an interview with Associated Press Television News. "And after that he adds in English: Thank you very much!"

Digital Globe
Satellite image of Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli.

In Tripoli, Abdel-Aziz Shafiya, 19, walked down one of the main roads of the compound with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher in one hand and a Kalashnikov in another. The teenager, who is from the embattled city of Misrata, said he felt "an explosion of joy inside."

"I lost friends and relatives and now I can walk into Gadhafi's house," he said. "Many of my friends have died and now all of that meant something."

Video: NBC reporter ducks amid gunfire in Tripoli (on this page)

The battle for Bab al-Azizya, in which mortars, heavy machine-guns and anti-aircraft guns were used, came hours after Gadhafi's son and heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, turned up free to thwart Libyan rebel claims he had been captured and rally supporters.

His surprise appearance underlined the potential for Gadhafi to strike back even as his grip on power seemed to be slipping fast.

Image: Seif al-Islam
Dario Lopez-Mills  /  AP
Seif al-Islam flashes the victory sign at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli.

Gadhafi's former right-hand man Abdel-Salam Jalloud told Al-Jazeera television that he thought the Libyan leader was moving around the outskirts of Tripoli, taking shelter at private homes, small hotels and mosques. Jalloud defected this month.

Mahmoud Shammam, a Doha-base spokesman for the rebels' interim council, was more cautious.

Story: Libyan-Americans pitch in to support rebels' cause

"We don't know who is inside Bab al-Aziziya. We believe that there is someone there and that he is leading a fierce battle. It is a symbol. This is the final castle of Gadhafi," he said.

NATO warns Tripoli remains dangerous
Street battles between pro-Gadhafi troops and rebels also broke out elsewhere in the city. Thick clouds of gray and white smoke filled the Tripoli sky as heavy gunfire and explosions shook several districts of the city of 2 million people.

NATO warned the situation in Tripoli remains very dangerous and promised the alliance will continue bombing forces loyal to the 69-year-old Libyan leader if they keep fighting.

"Snipers, shelling, missiles could do much damage, but they can't change the course of history or the outcome of this campaign," spokesman Col. Roland Lavoie told reporters at a news conference in Naples, Italy. He said NATO had to stay vigilant because of fluidity of the situation on the ground.

"Most notably, Tripoli is still the site of numerous clashes between pro- and anti-Gadhafi forces, and the tension is far from being over. The situation in Tripoli is indeed very, very dynamic and complex, even today, and we are closely monitoring developments hour after hour," he said.

NATO officials in Brussels said the alliance's warplanes were flying over Tripoli on Tuesday, but that there have been no bombing runs.

President Barack Obama said on Monday the situation in Libya reached a tipping point in recent days after a five month NATO-led bombing campaign. However, he acknowledged that the situation remained fluid and that elements of the regime remained a threat.

Saying the conflict was not over yet, Obama cautioned rebels against exacting revenge for Gadhafi's brutal rule. "True justice will not come from reprisals and violence," he said.

Outside of Tripoli, almost all of eastern and western Libya is now under rebel control. The east of the country from the Egyptian border to Benghazi fell into rebel hands at the beginning of the uprising. In the weeks leading up to Sunday's lightning advance on Tripoli, the rebels consolidated control of the western Nafusa mountain range near the border with Tunisia. It was from there they staged the run on the capital. Most of the rest of the country was quickly falling into their hands.

On Saturday rebels said they gained control of the oil refineries and airport at the oil terminal of Brega, on the road heading out of Benghazi west toward Tripoli.

The rebels' startling breakthrough on Sunday, after a long deadlock in Libya's 6-month-old civil war, was the culmination of a closely coordinated plan by rebels, NATO and anti-Gadhafi residents inside Tripoli, rebel leaders said. Rebel fighters from the west swept over 20 miles in a matter of hours, taking town after town and overwhelming a major military base as residents poured out to cheer them. At the same time, Tripoli residents secretly armed by rebels rose up.

Libyan state television was off the air Monday amid reports it had been seized by rebels.

The first signs emerged of moves to begin restoring oil production that has been the foundation of the economy and a source of hope for Libya's 6 million, mostly poor, people. Staff from Italy's Eni arrived to look into restarting facilities, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on Tuesday.

Story: Restoring Libyan oil output could take years

Italy, Libya's nearest European neighbor and the colonial power until World War Two, is a big customer for Libyan energy. But it will face stiff competition from others seeking a share of Libya's wealth — a competition some fear could test the ability of untried rebel leaders to hold the country together.

U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News they believed they could learn a great deal about the country's terrorist activities from a "treasure trove" of material in the Libyan intelligence archives — not only the Lockerbie bombing, but also its support for the Irish Republican Army, Palestinian groups and terrorists like Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the notorious Carlos the Jackal.

So far, the U.S. has spent nearly $890 million on its part of the NATO air campaign, a senior defense official told NBC News. If operations continue at the same pace until the mandate expires at the end of September, the cost to the U.S. will be more than $1 billion.

NBC News, The Associated Press, Reuters and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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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  1. Image: A photo said to show people gathering during recent days' unrest in Benghazi, Libya. The content, date and location of the image could not be independently verified.
    AP
    Above: Slideshow (81) Conflict in Libya
  2. Image: TO GO WITH AFP PACKAGE ON THE 40TH ANNIV
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    Slideshow (34) Moammar Gadhafi through the years

Interactive: Libya uprising: The latest

  1. Above: Interactive Libya uprising: The latest
  2. Timeline Libyan uprising

Explainer: Gadhafi's offspring

  • What is known and suspected about the children of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

  • Seif al-Islam Gadhafi

    Image: Seif al-Islam Gadhafi
    Ben Curtis  /  AP file
    Seif al-Islam Gadhafi in March 2011.

    Born 1972. Gadhafi's second-eldest son, by his second wife, Safia, has been alternately seen as a potentially more liberal successor to his father and as a staunch defender of the regime. The most educated and worldly of Gadhafi's sons, he has a doctorate in political philosophy from the London School of Economics and speaks fluent English, German, French and Arabic. He briefly left Libya in 2006 after sharply criticizing his father's regime, reportedly to take a position in banking outside the country. More recently, though, he has served in his father's government and acted as a spokesman for the regime during the uprising, warning in a nationally televised address in the early days of the revolt that it would likely lead to civil war. Before the unrest, Seif al-Islam worked as an architect and ran a charity that was involved in negotiating freedom for hostages taken by Islamic militants, especially in the Philippines. He also was involved in negotiations with the U.S. and Italian governments over compensation for survivors of the victims of the 1988 bombing of an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. The International Criminal Court confirmed to NBC News that he was in the custody of the rebels.

  • Mutasim-Billah Gadhafi

    Image: Mutasim-Billah Gadhafi
    Juan Barreto  /  AFP - Getty Images file
    Mutasim-Billah Gadhafi in September 2009.

    Date of birth unknown. Gadhafi's fourth son was a lieutenant colonel in the army and later served as Libya's national security adviser. He also has spent time living in luxury in the West, including at his mansion in the London suburbs, and hobnobbing with the rich and powerful, according to published accounts. Like other members of the family, he is an accomplished shakedown artist, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks. A July 2008 report from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli quoted a confidential informant as saying Mutasim put pressure on the chairman of National Oil Corp., Shukri Ghanem, to pay him $1.2 billion in cash and oil shipments. Ghanem told the confidant that he was considering resigning because he feared Mutasim could seek revenge if he wasn't paid, it said. Mutasim also made headlines after WikiLeaks published the classified U.S. diplomatic cables when it was revealed that he paid pop stars Beyonce, Usher and other musicians $1 million to play at a New Year's Eve party in 2010 on the Caribbean island of St. Barts. Guests reportedly included Lindsay Lohan, music mogul Russell Simmons, the band Bon Jovi and Beyonce's husband, multimillionaire rapper Jay-Z.

  • Saadi Gadhafi

    Image: Saadi Gadhafy
    Mahmud Turkia  /  AFP - Getty Images file
    Saadi Gadhafi in January 2010.

    Born in 1973. Gadhafi's third son is a Libyan businessman and former soccer player — he served as captain of the Libyan national team and playing briefly with two Italian clubs before failing a drug test. In 2002, security officers at Singapore's airport seized a submachine gun, a pistol and a knife from a bodyguard as a group of at least 15 Libyans was headed to Seoul to watch the World Cup finals. Saadi also is said to harbor an interest in film. In 2005, he and brother Mutasim were reportedly at the Venice Film Festival, throwing after-parties that were described as the hottest ticket in town. More recently, though, Saadi has had business on his mind. He is currently the commander of Libya's Special Forces and has been involved in trying to put down the uprising against his father. On March 15, there were unconfirmed reports that a Libyan pilot attacked the Gadhafi stronghold of Baab Al Azizia in Tripoli, damaging it and injuring Saadi and his brother Khamis. He also has been accused of ordering Libyan troops to shoot unarmed protesters in Benghazi at the beginning of the uprising. Saadi acknowledged that he was at the barracks but denied giving orders to fire on the protesters.

  • Khamis Gadhafi

    Image: Khamis Gadhafi
    Balkis Press  /  Abaca
    Khamis Gadhafi in March 2008.

    Born 1983. Gadhafi's youngest son is a military officer who studied the art of war in Russia. He was touring the U.S. shortly before the uprising against his father began while serving an internship with AECOM, a global infrastructure company with business interests in Libya. Shortly after taking a VIP tour of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Feb. 7 — eight days before the Libyan revolt began — he rushed home to lead his elite Khamis Brigade — described in U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks as "the most well-trained and well-equipped force in the Libyan military" — in assaults on the rebel-held cities of Zawiya and Benghazi. Khamis was reported to have been killed early in the fighting, either by a Libyan pilot's suicide mission or a coalition airstrike, but he later appeared on TV.

  • Hannibal Moammar Gadhafi

    Image: Hannibal Moammar Gadhafi
    Mahmud Turkia  /  AFP - Getty Images file
    Hannibal Moammar Gadhafi in October 2010.

    Born 1976. Gadhafi's fifth son is said to have a near-monopoly on oil and gas transportation in Libya. Trained as a merchant mariner, he received an MBA in shipping economics and logistics from Copenhagen Business School in 2007 and was appointed as a consultant to General National Maritime Transport Co. of Libya. Internationally, his reputation is that of a fun-loving thug. He has had run-ins with the law in Italy, France and Britain, culminating with the arrest of him and his wife, former model Aline Skaf, in Geneva on July 15, 2008, on charges that they assaulted two members of their staff. All charges were dropped, but the Libyan government retaliated against Switzerland by, among other things, recalling its diplomats, boycotting Swiss products, reducing flights between the two countries and detaining two Swiss citizens in Libya. According to a U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, the issue was resolved only after Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz traveled to Tripoli and made a public apology for the "inappropriate and unnecessary" arrest of Hannibal Gadhafi.

  • Mohammed Gadhafi

    Image: Mohammed Gadhafi
    Mahmud Turkia  /  AFP - Getty Images file
    Mohammed Gadhafi in October 2008.

    Born 1970. Gadhafi's eldest son is head of the Libyan Olympic Committee and chairman of General Post and Telecom Co., which owns and operates cellphone and satellite services in Libya. He has been regarded as a possible successor to his father. Like other members of the ruling clan, Muhammad Gadhafi has been accused of extorting Western companies seeking to do business in Libya. The New York Times on March 24 quoted a U.S. business executive as saying that when an international communications company he represented attempted to enter the Libyan cellphone market in 2007, Libyan officials made it clear that the foreign company's local business partner would have to be Muhammad Gadhafi. It also quoted a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks as stating that Coca-Cola was ensnared in a dispute between Muhammad and his brother Mutasim over control of a bottling plant the soda maker had opened in 2005, forcing it to shut down the plant for months amid armed confrontations. He told Reuters on Sunday night that he had been detained and was under house arrest.

  • Seif al-Arab Gadhafi

    Date of birth unknown. Little is known about Gadhafi's sixth son, whose name translates as "sword of the Arabs." Seif al-Arab reportedly has spent most of his time in recent years in Germany. He was appointed a military commander in the Libyan army during the uprising against his father, but there were unconfirmed reports that he defected and joined the rebel Libyan People's Army. He remains on a list of regime figures whose assets have been frozen by the U.S. Treasury. There were widespread reports that he was killed in a NATO airstrike April 30, but that has never been confirmed.

  • Aisha al-Gadhafi

    Image: Aisha al-Gadhafi
    Jerome Delay  /  AP
    Aisha al-Gadhafi in March 2011

    Born 1976. Gadhafi's only daughter is a lawyer and a fashion plate, known among some in the Arab press as the "Claudia Schiffer of North Africa." Professionally, she is best known for serving on the defense teams of executed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, convicted of throwing his shoes at former U.S. President George W. Bush during a Dec. 14, 2008, press conference in Baghdad. She was once rumored to have been married to her father's longtime friend, former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, but that has never been confirmed. She is now married to a cousin, Ahmed Gadhafi al-Qahsi, who is a colonel in the Libyan army. The couple have three children. She rarely grants interviews, but she told The Telegraph newspaper in October 2010 that she is very close to her father, whom she described as "my father, my friend and my brother." She also said she was sleeping next to her adopted sister, Hana, in 1986 when she was killed by U.S. bombs. "I woke to the thunder of the bombs and the screams of my sister with blood spattered over me," she told the newspaper. Soon after, she was seen waving her fist to the camera. In the early days of the uprising against her father, she was reportedly on a Libyan Arab Airlines turbo-prop plane that was refused permission to land in Malta. The Libyan government later denied the report.

  • Milad Abuztaia Gadhafi

    Date of birth unknown. Gadhafi's adopted son is also his nephew. He is said to have saved . Gadhafi's life when U.S. warplanes bombed the family compound in the April 1986 U.S. air attack that was said to have killed Gadhafi's adopted daughter, Hana.

  • Hana al-Gadhafi

    Born 1985. Hana, an adopted daughter, was reported to have been killed as an infant in the U.S. airstrike on a family compound in April 1986. However, there have been reports based on leaked Swiss government documents and interviews with Libyan exiles that she is a doctor who is a powerful figure in Libya's health ministry.

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