Rebels Begin Assault on Tripoli

Explosions rock the capital; government says all is well
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2011 4:38 PM CDT
Updated Aug 20, 2011 5:01 PM CDT
Rebels Begin Assault on Tripoli
Rebel fighters celebrate after taking control of Zawiya, Libya, Friday.   (AP Photo/Sky via APTN)

It looks like Libyan rebels are closing in for the kill: Reuters reports heavy gunfire and explosions in Tripoli. Rebels have made swift progress this week knocking off strategic cities around the capital, and now it, too, looks in danger of falling. Residents tell the news agency that people are in the streets in some areas shouting anti-Gadhafi slogans. A government spokesman, however, took to state television to downplay the unrest: "All of Tripoli is safe and stable."

Even if that's true, it probably won't be for long, a US assistant secretary of state tells the New York Times. “It is clear that the situation is moving against Gadhafi," says Jeffrey D. Feltman. "The opposition continues to make substantial gains on the ground while his forces grow weaker.” Already, rumors are circulating that Gadhafi himself has fled Tripoli, reports NBC News, but there's no confirmation. Earlier reports had him poised to leave for Tunisia. (Read more Moammar Gadhafi stories.)

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