Nightly News | February 22, 2011
>>> good evening, with fighting in the streets and his entire nation in play, moammar gadhafi made it clear, if he's going to be toppled after 40 years in charge, he intends to go down fighting and die like a martyr. right now, tonight it looks like the fight for libya is devolving into a civil war . gadhafi went on libyan television today to deliver a speech that sounded as bizarre as it looked. he stood in front of the preserved wreckage of his home, blown up by a u.s. air strike in the '80s, which he's had preserved as a kind of museum of defiance. tonight control of his country may not be up too him, and it appears to be steadily violently slipping away from him. our own chief foreign correspondent richard engel after a harrowing journey over the egyptian border has been able to make it into libya . he's with us tonight from tobruk in libya . how would you describe control of libya as of now?
>> reporter: i would call gadhafi 's control over libya right now tenuous. we didn't know what we were going to expect when we crossed in from egypt. we had been told that eastern libya , where we are right now, was in the hands of the rebels, but what exactly did that mean? did that mean there would be all rebel control? some libyan army units still wandering the territory? as we came in here, it was quickly obvious that moammar gadhafi has lost control of large portions of his country, and that was immediately obvious as soon as we got to the border. border crossing , itself, there is no one on the libyan side. no one to check us in. we just drove into libyan once we got through the egyptian customs procedures. once we were inside libya , we were quickly surrounded by demonstrators. the demonstrators have set up checkpoints on almost every intersection. they are armed and denouncing gadhafi . this is no longer just an egyptian style movement. this is an armed rebellion. we drove for about 100 miles in eastern libya , we didn't see a single gadhafi loyalist. instead we saw military barracks that have been abandoned or burned down or other military barracks that are still occupied by libyan troops, but libyan troops who are now fighting with the rebels, fighting with the demonstrators. we went to one of those barracks, and spoke to one of those officers. they simply refuse to fire on the libyan people. they won't fire on their brothers and sisters . they say in order to do that, gadhafi has brought in foreign mercenaries from africa, they accuse those mercenaries of carrying out atrocities, firing on unarmed civilians and mass rape. we didn't see any evidence to prove that. this is clearly an ongoing conflict . the military is taking aside at least in eastern libya . we didn't just see soldiers who are sitting out this conflict. we went downstairs and saw the troops handing out heavy weapons . the military bases have been completely emptied, they're now taking all the weapons, including heavy machine guns , rocket launchers . now that the people and the military are together. most of the fighting right now seems to be centered in tripoli, and it is fair to say from at least what we could say today, that eastern libya is no longer under gadhafi 's control. rebel leaders tell us they believe they control about 30% of all of libya right now, brian.
>> richard engel starting us off from libya tonight. richard, we trust as always you'll travel