Fight for Libya
August 24th, 2011
11:02 PM ET

Live blog: Rebels fighting pockets of resistance; journalists escape hotel

With reported pockets of fighting remaining in Tripoli on Wednesday, the whereabouts of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi still were not known.

Rebels seized Gadhafi’s vast compound on Tuesday. Celebratory gunfire was virtually nonstop as rebels streamed in and out of the compound, many leaving with weapons and ammunition seized from the complex.

A senior NATO official warned that the war "is not over yet, although it's close."

Here are the latest developments:

[Updated 11:02 p.m. ET, 5:02 a.m. Thursday in Libya] The bodies of 17 rebels killed Tuesday by Gadhafi forces near the longtime leader's compound were taken Wednesday to a hospital in eastern Tripoli, a doctor there told CNN.

Dr. Mohammed Rashed said the victims had been executed. Rashed, a Libyan who has worked as a consultant in Britain for 25 years, said he was volunteering with a medical group at a Tripoli hospital when a patient showed up Wednesday seeking treatment for a leg wound.

The patient told Rashed that he was one of 25 people who had been abducted from their homes by Gadhafi forces, taken to a military barracks near Gadhafi's compound and accused of complicity with the rebels.

As the Gadhafi forces began to execute them, rebel forces began storming Bab al-Azizia, he said. The resulting confusion gave some of the captives the chance to escape, he said.

[Updated 9:02 p.m. ET, 3:02 a.m. Thursday in Libya] The humanitarian group Medecins Sans Frontieres, also called Doctors Without Borders, says medical facilities in the capital are overwhelmed with patients.

"Almost all of the hospitals around the city are receiving wounded, but some of the hospitals have not been accessible due to the fighting, which means that other hospitals have an added burden," said Jonathan Whittall, MSF head of mission in Tripoli.

He described scenes of chaos inside institutions short of doctors and nurses, many of whom have been afraid to travel unsafe streets to get to work. But, he added, "there is a huge number of people who are responding as volunteers and who are going to the hospitals to try and support and assist where they can."

Ambulance workers are hamstrung by the fuel shortage in the capital. With electricity only sporadic, hospitals have been running on generators, but they too require gas. Still, he said, "health facilities are stretched, but by no means are they completely collapsed or not functioning at all."

[Updated 7:27 p.m. ET, 1:27 a.m. Thursday in Libya] The United States will support an effort by several members of the U.N. Security Council to override the United Nations' sanctions committee and allow countries to free up frozen Libyan assets for the Libyan opposition's National Transitional Council.

The Obama administration has tried for days to get approval from the U.N. sanctions committee to unfreeze $1 billion to $1.5 billion worth of Libyan assets, but South Africa has been blocking that move. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi funded South Africa's African National Congress - now the ruling party - when it was a liberation movement fighting the white apartheid regime.

A Security Council meeting Wednesday concluded without a vote on a draft resolution to free $1.5 billion of assets. If South Africa doesn't lift its objections, Washington will call for a vote Thursday afternoon, U.S. officials said. South Africa - which the officials say does not object to releasing some, but not all, of the money for urgent humanitarian needs - does not have veto power and would not be able to block the resolution.

[Updated 5:19 p.m. ET, 11:19 p.m. in Libya] Gadhafi forces' shelling of areas in and around Tripoli International Airport got more intense after dark, and a plane is burning on the tarmac, reports CNN's Arwa Damon, who is at the airport.

Rebels control the airport but are struggling to control an area to the east. Regime elements had entrenched themselves in nearby villages, rebel commanders said. While the rebel fighters were shooting back, they were calibrating their fire in order not to strike villagers, the commanders said.

Rebels said the intensity of the fighting around the airport could indicate Gadhafi is nearby.

[Updated 4:52 p.m. ET, 10:52 p.m. in Libya] More information about four Italian journalists who reportedly were abducted in Libya on Wednesday morning: They were kidnapped on a road between the coastal city of Zawiya and Tripoli, about a half hour away, Italian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maurizio Massari told CNN.

Massari said it was unclear who was responsible, but that the ministry assumed it was pro-Gadhafi forces. Two of the journalists are from Corriere della Sera and one each from La Stampa and Avvenire.

Avvenire's foreign editor, Paolo Alfieri, said his kidnapped journalist, Claudio Monici, called the newsroom and spoke for about five minutes. During the conversation, Monici identified the others as Elisabetta Rosaspina and Giuseppe Sarcina from Corriere della Sera and Sono Domenico Quirico from La Stampa.

Alfieri, who described Monici's voice as calm, said the journalist reported that the four had been en route from Zawiya toward the capital when they were stopped by a road block. There, the four journalists were beaten and one of the drivers was killed, Monici said. Still, he described the four journalists as "well."

[Updated 4:40 p.m. ET, 10:40 p.m. in Libya] More details about Saadi Gadhafi's apparent efforts to negotiate a cease-fire with U.S. and NATO officials: He wrote in an e-mail to CNN's Nic Robertson: "I will try to save my city Tripoli and 2 millions of people living there ... otherwise Tripoli will be lost forever like Somalia."

Without a cease-fire, he added, "Soon it will be a sea of blood." NATO has been enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya since March, and has conducted airstrikes against Libyan military targets as rebels advanced.

Saadi Gadhafi is one of Moammar Gadhafi's sons, and he's one of three Gadhafi sons who the rebel National Transitional Council announced had been captured during their weekend advance on Tripoli. However, they said Monday that one of the other two, Mohammed Gadhafi, had escaped. And Saif al-Islam Gadhafi - a top adviser to his father - made an appearance before international journalists early Tuesday to refute reports of his arrest.

There was no immediate comment from NTC officials on Saadi Gadhafi's status or his offer.

[Updated 3:42 p.m. ET, 9:42 p.m. in Libya] The rebels' National Transitional Council announced that a Benghazi businessman offered a $2.5 million bounty on Gadhafi's head. Earlier, the figure was reported to have been $1.67 million.

[Updated 3:37 p.m. ET, 9:37 p.m. in Libya] The International Committee of the Red Cross is sending two surgical teams to Tripoli, where medical facilities are overwhelmed with people injured in the conflict between rebels and Gadhafi loyalists, spokesman Robin Waudo said.

The teams will visit different hospitals and assist where needed, Waudo said.

Waudo said some of Tripoli's medical facilities do not have enough medical supplies, and some health workers are not coming to work because of the fighting.

[Updated 3:31 p.m. ET, 9:31 p.m. in Libya] The International Committee of the Red Cross, whose vehicles shuttled roughly 40 hostage journalists away from Tripoli's Rixos Hotel on Wednesday, talked to both the rebels and Gadhafi loyalists to get security guarantees so they could pick up the reporters, an ICRC spokesman said.

By the time the ICRC personnel arrived at the hotel, the gunmen who'd been holding the journalists were gone, ICRC spokesman Robin Waudo told CNN. "Only journalists were left," he said.

He said the ICRC had been in contact with the journalists since last week, when one of them told the organization that the reporters weren't free to leave the hotel.

Gunmen loyal to Gadhafi weren't letting the reporters depart the hotel for days, saying that it was too dangerous to leave, and that the reporters needed to stay for their own safety.

[Updated 3:09 p.m. ET, 9:09 p.m. in Libya] Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his country's embassy in Libya's capital was "attacked and plundered," Venezuelan state media reported Wednesday.

Chavez and Moammar Gadhafi are close allies. The Venezuelan president has spoken out numerous times since unrest ergupted in Libya, accusing the United States and other countries of blowing the situation out of proportion to justify an invasion.

[Updated 2:27 p.m. ET, 8:27 p.m. in Libya] Reuters, citing the Italian Foreign Ministry, is reporting that Italian journalists were abducted near the coastal city of Zawiya on Wednesday morning.

[Updated 1:09 p.m. ET, 7:09 p.m. in Libya] Gadhafi forces have entrenched themselves in villages on the east side of Tripoli's airport and are launching attacks from there, rebels stationed at the airport are telling CNN’s Arwa Damon.

"Rebels are shooting back, but because Gadhafi forces are inside these villages they are concerned about civilians," Damon reported.

Rebels work to secure the entrance to the Tripoli airport.

NATO jets are circling the areas, Damon said, but are also not firing because of concerns about civilian casualties.

Damon said rebels continue to believe it is possible Gadhafi himself is in the area or at nearby farms his family owns.

"They say that the fact that this airport has come under attack so frequently, and not just single attacks, complex, simultaneous attacks, leads them to believe there is someone [Gadhafi loyalists] are trying to protect moving through the area," Damon said.

[Updated 1:09 p.m. ET, 7:09 p.m. in Libya] French President Nicolas Sarkozy Wednesday proposed a September 1 international conference for Libya.

Libyan opposition leader Mahmoud Jibril, appearing with Sarkozy at a press conference, said the day has resonance. Moammar Gadhafi led a coup that brought him to power on September 1, 1969.

[Updated 12:57 p.m. ET, 6:57 p.m. in Libya] NATO has begun high-level internal discussions on how to protect Libya's mustard gas supplies if the stockpile suddenly was deemed to no longer be secure, an Obama administration official tells CNN.

[Updated 12:47 p.m. ET, 6:47 p.m. in Libya] Through Tuesday, NATO warplanes have flown 20,121 sorties over Libya since the beginning of the alliance's involvement there on March 31, the alliance said Wednesday.

NATO said it scored "key hits" Tuesday on two armored fighting vehicles, two military heavy trucks, three surface-to-air missile systems and one radar in the Tripoli area. In the Ras Lanuf area, three armed vehicles and three multiple rocket launchers were hit. And in the Zuwarah area, two tanks, three armed vehicles, two military trucks and one military facility were struck.

[Updated 12:36 p.m. ET, 6:36 p.m. in Libya] CNN's Frederik Pleitgen, reporting from Benghazi, Libya, says there are still strongholds of support for Moammar Gadhafi in areas around Libya. Rebel leaders are debating how to deal with those pockets of resistance to try to contain bloodshed, Pleitgen reports.

[Updated 12:30 p.m. ET, 6:30 p.m. in Libya] The U.N. Security Council will meet at 3 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the release of $1.5 billion in urgent humanitarian aid for Libya, CNN's Richard Roth reports.

[Updated 12:23 p.m. ET, 6:23 p.m. in Libya] CNN's Dan Rivers, speaking to a senior Libyan opposition official, learned that a large portion of the southern half of the capitol of Tripoli remains dangerous.

While much of Tripoli is in rebel hands and is dotted with rebel checkpoints, there are areas where the rebels are not in control and elements of Gadhafi forces are in the streets taking shots at people. The sound of celebratory gunfire mixed with sounds of fighting make it difficult for people to ascertain what is going on, Rivers was told.

[Updated 12:11 p.m. ET, 6:11 p.m. in Libya] There is "no evidence to indicate" Moammar Gadhafi has left Libya, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday.

The latest developments, however, "are an indication" that Gadhafi's grip on power "is slipping," Earnest said. This is a "testament to the resolve and courage of the Libyan people."

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[Updated 11:51 a.m. ET, 5:51 p.m. in Libya] CNN producer Jomana Karadsheh, who was trapped with CNN's Matthew Chance, described her feelings after being freed from the Rixos Hotel:

"It's good to be out, it's good to be free," she said. "I cannot explain to you what an emotional rollercoaster this has been. Especially today was really hard. Speaking Arabic, I was involved in most of the negotiations, trying to secure a safe passage for us to leave."

Karadsheh explained that over the course of the last few days, she began talking with one of the Gadhafi loyalists to try and find common ground to help secure their release.

Karadsheh said she talked to the guard about his kids and his family, and then she talked to him about how she wanted to see her family.

"He got tears in his eyes at that moment," she said. "Slowly myself and another colleague here, an Arab camera man, sat there with him and said things are changing out there ... just let us go. It was a slow process but it worked out at the end."

Their release, Karadsheh said, helps put in perspective how things have changed in Tripoli. Just one week ago, armed pro-Gadhafi forces controlled the entire area.

"Walking out of the hotel, I didn’t know what was going to be out there," she said. "I came out to a new Libya. I saw green flags, the rebel flags, it felt like a happy Tripoli. It was a very different [Tripoli] from what I had seen before I was taken hostage."

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[Updated 11:20 a.m. ET, 5:20 p.m. in Libya] CNN’s Matthew Chance reports that he and other hostage reporters at the Rixos Hotel Hotel faced extremely difficult conditions while they were trapped there for days.

“Gunmen kicked down doors, rifled through our things,” he said.

Chance described how he lied on his belly for 13 hours at one point to avoid being shot as gunfire erupted outside the hotel.

He described how Gadhafi loyalists with green bandanas holding Kalashnikovs as they patrolled the lobby.

Chance said he “felt the lifting of a weight” when he was finally released because he and other journalists feared they would be used as human shields.

[Updated 11:20 a.m. ET, 5:20 p.m. in Libya] The general in charge of Moammar Gadhafi’s security detail has been working with the rebels for a month and has ordered the Libyan leader’s guards to put down their weapons, a rebel source tell CNN’s Dan Rivers.

CNN could not independently verify the report.

[Updated 10:47 a.m. ET, 4:47 p.m. in Libya] CNN's Matthew Chance and his production team, who have been trapped in the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli, have left the hotel to freedom, Chance reports.

The hotel was under the control of Gadhafi loyalists.

Foreign journalists in riot gear at the Rixos Hotel on Tuesday.

It has been “an emotional rollercoaster of the past five days,” Chance said.

“We’ve got all the journalists into these four cars plus a civilian car and we are now driving through the deserted streets of Tripoli to our freedom essentially," Chance said. The Red Cross helped the 36 journalists get through checkpoints, he said.

“We’ve been living in fear for the past five days because we’ve been being held against our will by these crazy gunmen,” he said.

“Its been an absolute nightmare,” he said. “The fact that we got out of the hotel, people are crying. People are weeping with relief."

[cnn-video url=""%5D

The situation ended when Gadhafi loyalists on guard in the hotel were told about the changing situation in Tripoli. Chance reported that when when the Gadhafi troops realized the regime might be over and there might not be much left to fight for a guard then came up to the journalists and said, “Look, we’re not going to stop you from leaving anymore,” Chance reported. The journalists then were able to arrange their transportation from the hotel.

Chance, who has been trapped in the hotel for five days, just hit publish on a slew of tweets that captured the past hour of how he and the others got out of the hotel:

Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "Here is timeline of events that have happened in the last hour at the#Rixos......"
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "330p local time: Negotiating with guards for our release. They said we can leave, but in small groups. #rixos"
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "We are expecting the ICRC and Chinese embassy to send cars to pick us up. Fingers crossed. #rixos, #rixos4"
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "4:00p local time: Pandemonium in lobby of hotel, all going back upstairs. Another anti- climax? #rixos"
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "415p local time: This feels like the end game in this dramatic and unpleasant situation. #rixos
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "Running across upper floors of hotel to find a flag with TV written on it. They want to put it on the car. #rixos"
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "These tweets are a timeline of the last hour at the #rixos"
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "Getting flags with “TV” on them ready for when we are released. Which we hope is soon. #rixos"
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "BBC cars arrives at #rixos, BBC crew is leaving the hotel."
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "436pm local time: BBC has left the hotel"
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "437pm local time: ICRC cars have arrived at the hotel."
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "438pm local time: Now pulling out of #rixos hotel after 6 days of a complete nightmare. Still dodgy situation"
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "439pm local time: Crammed with other journos in the car. Reuters, other cameramen, FOX, and AP #rixos"
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "We have been holed up together for what seems like an eternity. We could finally get out freedom!!! #rixos"
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "I can see the NTC rebels. We are nearly there!"
Matthew Chance@mchancecnn: "#Rixos crisis ends. All journalists are out! #rixos"

[Updated 10:33 a.m. ET, 4:33 p.m. in Libya] Moammar Gadhafi's son Saadi Gadhafi is trying to get in touch with U.S. and rebel authorities to negotiate a cease-fire in Tripoli, CNN's Nic Robertson reports.

Robertson said he has been in contact with Saadi Gadhafi, a businessman and one-time professional soccer player, by email.

"I have authority" to negotiate, Saadi Gadhafi wrote, according to Robertson.

"He'd like to negotiate a cease-fire to avoid further bloodshed," Robertson reports.

Saadi Gadhafi's emails seem authentic as they resemble previous correspondence with him, Robertson said.

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[Updated 10:19 a.m. ET, 4:19 p.m. in Libya] Libyan rebels are offering a reward of $1.67 million for the capture or killing of Moammar Gadhafi, Agence France Presse reports.

"The NTC supports the initiative of businessmen who are offering 2  million dinars for the capture of Moammar Gadhafi, dead or alive," Mustafa Abdul Jalil said in Tripoli, according to AFP.

[Updated 10:14 a.m. ET, 4:14 p.m. in Libya] CNN's Sara Sidner reports from Tripoli that there is a real divide when looking at different areas of Libya as to how “free” they are.

“There’s a sense in [Tripoli] that this thing is over, yet there are still other neighborhoods where we are being told … there are snipers; Gadhafi loyalists are armed to the teeth.”

[Updated 10:09 a.m. ET, 4:09 p.m. in Libya] The United Nations Security Council may soon free up assets for use by anti-Gadhafi forces in Libya, a Western diplomat said Wednesday.

The United States, France, and Britain were discussing a resolution that would allow the rebel forces to use money previously held by Gadhafi's government.

[Updated 10:07 a.m. ET, 4:07 p.m. in Libya] Libyan rebel leaders say any Moammar Gadhafi loyalists who capture or kill Gadhafi will be offered amnesty, according to a report from Reuters news service.

"The National Transitional Council announces that any of his inner cicle who kill Gadhafi or capture him, society will give amnesty or pardon for any crime he has committed," council chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil told a news conference, according to Reuters.

[Updated 9:52 a.m. ET, 3:52 p.m. in Libya] CNN’s Arwa Damon, reporting from near the Tripoli airport, said rebels believe attacks on the airport are part of Gadhafi force plans to clear a path for the leader to escape.

“The senior rebel commander believes the intensity of fighting he has seen with multiple attacks being launched [towards the airport] is directly linked to Gadhafi’s whereabouts,” Damon said.

The rebel leader said he believes the fighting is an attempt to clear a path for Gadhafi, since the airport is located on a key highway, Damon reported.

“All day today loyalists are firing ground rockets and we hear automatic machine guns,” Damon reported.

Rebels also said they believe they may have spotted Gadhafi Tuesday night when the rebels were breaking Ramadan fast. Damon said rebels told her they spotted a convoy that included an armored Mercedes, a car Gadhafi frequently had traveled in. The rebel said he passed that information on to NATO in case it may, in fact, be Gadhafi.

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[Updated 9:44 a.m. ET, 3:44 p.m. in Libya] CNN's Sara Sidner, reporting from Tripoli on Wednesday, says some residents of the city were out and about to check on the situation, a change from previous days. People are willing to show their faces and tell journalists their names, she said, indicating that fears of the Moammar Gadhafi regime were abating.

"They are just extremely relieved. They are coming out here to show their support for the rebels," she said. "They say they are tired of being scared."

[Updated 9:34 a.m. ET, 3:34 p.m. in Libya] Special forces troops from Britain, France, Jordan and Qatar on the ground in Libya have stepped up operations in Tripoli and other cities in recent days to help rebel forces as they conducted their final advance on the Gadhafi regime, a NATO official confirmed to CNN Wednesday.

British forces, in particular, have assisted rebel units by "helping them get better organized to conduct operations," the official said. Some of these forces from all the countries have traveled with rebel units from towns across Libya as they advanced on Tripoli.

The official declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the intelligence information. Overall, the special forces have helped rebels "improve their tactics," the official said.

The forces have also provided targeting information to warplanes conducting airstrikes and conducting reconnaissance missions in Tripoli, he said. This has been especially critical in recent days in the capital, as fighters from both sides have mixed together in close range. The forces have also assisted rebels in communications as they conducted the assault on the capital.

Qatari and French forces also have provided some armaments, the official said.

[Updated 9:30 a.m. ET, 3:30 p.m. in Libya] CNN's Sara Sidner, who is reporting from Tripoli, tweets an update:

Sara Sidner@sarasidnerCNN: "Mortars and rounds coming into Bab al Azzazia today from neighbourhood in the East"

[Updated 9:13 a.m. ET, 3:13 p.m. in Libya] Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the rebels' National Transitional Council, said the "prevailing thought" in the NTC is to put Moammar Gadhafi and his allies on trial in Libya, not at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. He said parliamentary and presidential elections will be held in eight months.

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[Updated 9:04 a.m. ET, 3:04 p.m. in Libya] Mustafa Abdul Jalil, National Transitional Council chairman, told Italy's La Repubblica daily newspaper on Wednesday that Tripoli is "80 percent under our control." He said there are pockets of resistance in Tripoli and reported "a large concentration" of armed forces in Sirte, east of the capital.

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[Updated 8:28 a.m. ET, 2:28 p.m. in Libya] Moammar Gadhafi's whereabouts in Libya remained unknown, but his likeness turned up in a place that indicates his new standing in Libya: A Gadhafi tapestry was laid out as the doormat to Libya's embassy in London, The Telegraph reports on its live blog.

[Updated 8:04 a.m. ET, 2:04 p.m. in Libya] CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance, who is trapped along with about 40 other journalists at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli, Libya, urged other journalists in the city Wednesday not to come to the hotel for fear they, too, would not be allowed to leave by forces still loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.

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[Updated 6:39 a.m. ET, 12:39 p.m. in Libya] Several rockets landed near Tripoli International Airport on Wednesday, CNN crews observed.

Four rebel fighters were found bound and executed near a hospital  northeast of the airport, said Mukhtar Al-Akhbar, a rebel commander.

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[Updated 6:37 a.m. ET, 12:37 p.m. in Libya] Russia is not yet prepared to recognize the rebels as the government of Libya, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on state TV Wednesday, saying there were now "two governing parties in the country, and despite the rebels' success in Tripoli, Gadhafi and his loyalists retain influence and military potential."

He said Moscow wanted "the Libyans themselves to come to an agreement," and that Russia would consider recognizing the rebels as the government if they "have the power and spirit and opportunity to unite the country on a new democratic basis."

[Updated 6:15 a.m. ET, 12:15 p.m. in Libya] Incoming fire flew into the Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli on Wednesday, Libyan rebels and a CNN team report. The compound - which was the heart of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi's regime - was taken over by rebels on Tuesday.

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[Updated 6:13 a.m. ET, 12:13 p.m. in Libya] Clashes are taking place Wednesday outside Tripoli's Rixos hotel, said CNN's Matthew Chance, who is "hunkered down" in the hotel.

[Updated 5:45 a.m. ET, 11:45 a.m. in Libya] A doctor at a Tripoli clinic said Wednesday his facility is nearly full and has treated more than 300 injures in the past three days. He reported "a lot" of limb amputations and injuries to civilians, including children.

[Updated 4:55 a.m. ET, 10:55 a.m. in Libya] Russia will consider establishing relations with the Libyan "insurgents" if they have enough strength to consolidate the country on a democratic footing, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

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[Updated 4:35 a.m. ET, 10:37 a.m. in Libya] In addition to casualties among rebel and government forces, civilians have also been wounded, "which is quite a concern for us," said Robin Waudo, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Tripoli. He said he was not able to release a casualty toll.

Waudo also said some health workers are not coming to work because of the precarious situation in Tripoli.

[Updated 3:37 a.m. ET, 9:37 a.m. in Libya] CNN's Matthew Chance says pro-Gadhafi guards who had been in the Rixos hotel's lobby armed with assault rifles have largely disappeared from the lobby. But he said international journalists are still not able to leave the hotel.

A meeting of international leaders Wednesday would focus on organizing aid for Libya. The meeting will include officials from the National Transitional Council, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and Turkey, said Mahmoud Jibril of the NTC. The aid money would go toward paying salaries for Libyans and covering medical treatment for those injured in the fighting, he said.

Rebels fully controlled the airport but were struggling to control an area east of it early Wednesday. The unexpected resistance caused them to speculate that loyalists could be protecting a high-profile figure in the vicinity.

[Updated 2:13 a.m. ET, 8:13 a.m. in Libya] South Korea recognizes the Libyan rebels' National Transitional Council as "the legitimate governing authority representing the Libyan people" and it plans to deliver humanitarian aid worth $1 million, South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced Wednesday.

China hopes to play a "positive role" in Libya's reconstruction, a commerce ministry spokesman said Wednesday. "We also hope to further develop the economic and trade cooperation with Libya. We're willing to work along with the international community."

[Updated 1:20 a.m. ET, 7:20 a.m. in Libya] Two Arabic networks have aired an audio message purportedly from Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi that called upon all Libyans "to clear the city of Tripoli and eliminate the criminals, traitors and rats. ... They are hiding between the families and inside the civilian houses. It's your duty to enter these houses and take them out."

CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the message.

[Updated 11:11 p.m. ET Tuesday, 5:11 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] A woman living in Tripoli tells CNN's Anderson Cooper about her neighborhood getting hit by rockets from what she believes were pro-Gadhafi forces, and about how she is proud of the rebels who have risen against Gadhafi:

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[Updated 10:58 p.m. Tuesday ET, 4:58 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] In an interview with CNN, former Gadhafi aide Bashir Saleh called for an end to the violence. "I appeal to everybody who has his arms to think before shooting - from our side or from the Gadhafi side. It's time to stop the bloodshed," he said.

Asked what Gadhafi had told him during the uprising when he made similar comments, Saleh said, "He say that he has a job and we have to continue our job. Job is to stop the rebellions, and we have the right to do so."

soundoff (284 Responses)
  1. citizenUSA

    Well it's nice to see that "thank you" poster. I appreciate it. Usually we're seeing our flag and an effigy of our President being burned. These young people are smart. Most have no interest in Al Qaeda which is good for the world. Why fight from being controlled by a ruthless dictator to being controlled by a group of religious fanatics? Welcome to freedom!

    August 24, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jake

    The thing about these long-held dictatorships is that there is NO retirement possible for them. They hold onto power by enslaving their own people and destroying all opposition for years then, when the people have finally had enough and want change, they cannot just step down and say "Here, Take it all and good luck. I'll be at my home in the Bahamas." The transition for them is life or death. No middle ground, so they do not hesitate to ramp up the killing to attempt to stay in power. The only way a dictator might possibly survive returning power to their country is to do so BEFORE the people take to the streets demanding it.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    I agree totally, Jake.
    You put it very well.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. chris

    Looks like Nato lied about everything about this mission.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zeshan

      why nato does not dare to do the same in Saudi arabia. When a uprising is crushed there US is first to say it is their internal matter? joke!

      August 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • flo

      Nato did not lie. Your are too dim to understand.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SARA

    let me be the first one to say this : WHO GIVES A FCUK!!

    August 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alex

    The freedom should void the contract Qaddafi made with BP. Put the Lockerbie bomber back in prison and let oil flow in the free market

    August 24, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • flo

      Very good point. I agree. Libyan oil, for Libyan people for a change. They deserve it. They are brave and put their life on line to be free. I hoe they prosper.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Why void the contract? How are the people NOT getting the money for the oil now? You think BP pays for the oil they drill with fairy farts? You think Gadhafi says to himself "Well, this is dirty WESTERN $$, so I'm going to protect my people by keeping it instead of sharing."?

      The MONEY BP pays goes to the Libyan government. Distributing that money is up to the Libyan Government. Gadhafi just pocketed most of it. Hopefully the new government will use it for the people, or distribute it more directly like Alaska does by handing out cash. Whatever they do, that is an internal matter that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with who they contract with to extract, move, & process the oil.

      But even if the new government is corrupt to hell & back and keeps the money for themselves, still the question remains, what would change by "punishing" BP through cancelling the contract? You think the government would suddenly decide to share the profits just because the "middle man" changed?

      Did you even THINK about this? Or are you just an "OMG America is after the oil!" idiot that hits your head on the ceiling every time your hippie demagogue tells you to jump?

      August 24, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. pt6071

    I like the picture of the rebel sign thanking Obama for US help. Don't expect to see that on Fox News.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • flo

      Of course not. Despite the republican effort to take credit, everyone expect the moron republican populace know how smart president Obama is and how much people of the world appreciate him.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • leelanau

      Spare me......I think some percentage of the 6.4 million Libyans appreciate Obama. Where has CNN ever been on 40 million Kurds who virtually unanimously thank George W. Bush for advancing their cause for freedom? Oh yeah, guess I got to get that from a more fair and balanced network.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Also don't expect to see the Libyan signs saying "Die America" here.
      Also don't expect to see the Iraqi signs saying "Yay America" / "Yay Bush" here.

      But then, its all fair when its biased towards YOUR view, isn't it?

      August 24, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. john macintyre

    Poor old MCHANCE at CNN. Poor guy was so terrified and stressed that he only had a chance ( no pun intended ) to send 18 messages to the blog. Typical Whining Brit.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ss

    Former U.S. Congressman Walter Fauntroy was one of the captives at Tripoli's Rixos Hotel. Why was he in #Libya?

    August 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. smartypants

    Notice the cheerleading in the press over Libya since Obama bought into it. Note that there was absolutely no risk involved in Libya, so the left likes it. We merely drop bombs, much like Clinton did to Belgrade. We didn't even take the reins of leadership, leaving that to Europe. Mo' better as far as the pansies in the media are concerned.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • kmfdmdaw

      You're right smartypant, that is the way we like it. No dead Americans, no trillions of dollars spent, no endless wars.

      August 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sorin

    This message was posted in leftie Globe & Mail (Canada) at 3:38 PM on Aug 21 and erased by GM. In the meantime a tornado hit Goderich, a place where I liked to go and a quake struck Washington. What should happen to this G&M censors? On Aug 19, in Zawiya there were mass demonstrations pro Ghaddafi.
    Watch my clips on youtube – user firstconservative
    There is a lot of misinformation in North America main media (left or so called right). About God and “God is great”- give me a break! Rebels are using God, as so called Canadian conservatives used God to win elections. The non believers greens -sic- (aks Zandoli here) are supporting the Ghadaffi believers. Nowdays is hard to find an independent journalist to tell the truth. In Canada, we need Who is who in the media.

    lizzy phelan- misinformation about Tripoli, Aug 20, 2011

    “This makeshift and fluctuating army, which announces a victory every other day, has in fact been collecting defeat after defeat. Every battle recreates the same scenario, with each NATO bombardment forcing the population to flee their homes. Thus, the town is quickly run over by rebel forces who announce they have gained ground. Only then does the battle begin. The Libyan army enters the town and massacres the rebels. At that point, the population safely returns to the partially destroyed village…..[…].”




    Jalili, pick up the arms and go in front battle, do not wait in the trenches. Ghaddafi’s sons are fighting.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jadedone

      They behave like animals. Disgusting.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. greg

    This is all a big lie. The al queda rebels are not close to taking the city, although the rebels and Nato special forces are massacring dozens of citizens and sniping alternative journalists. This is a fraud supported by CNN.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. kmfdmdaw

    Thank God Obama is President during this event or else U.S. soldiers would be over there dying and trillions would be added to the budget.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suni

      Bombing is not coming free either! So budget is still 'out the window'..!! LOL!!
      France and Britain were the first pilots to start flying over Libya, even Canadians flew before Obama even decided
      to get his ass in there! HE IS THE FOLLOWER NOT A LEADER!!

      August 24, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Marc Long

    CNN is indirectly responsible for the kidnapping of the Italian journalists. By focussing so much media attention on the Rixos Hotel journalists experience it has obviously alerted Ghadafi's loyalist thugs to how to get media attention!! Shame on CNN

    August 24, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Luke

    Meanwhile, Obama is on vacation. Obummer.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anthony

      Get over it dude. Show a sliver a support for your country, and show a bit of respect for the highest office in the nation. Quit playing partisan politics, quit being part of the countries divide.

      August 24, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
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