LIVE UPDATES: Fighting rages at Gaddafi compound

Update: 11: 18 CST – Al Jazeera is reporting that those fighting in the compound are not all rebels and some appear to be being directed in their actions by a non-rebel presence.

Update: 11.13 CST – Info on the compound from a Reuters article indicates it is possible Gaddafi could have fled via underground tunnels.

The fortified Tripoli compound attacked by Libyan rebels Tuesday is the seat of Muammar Gaddafi’s political power and the principal base of loyalist fighters trying to rescue his 42-year-old rule.

Analysts say Gaddafi loyalist fighters confronted with an influx of rebels since the weekend have sought to use his Bab al-Azizyah bastion as a springboard from which to carve out a loyalist zone and chip away at rebel control of adjoining neighborhoods.

The encampment is believed to sit atop a network of tunnels and bunkers that lead to adjoining districts, including possibly a subterranean route to the coast.

But the tunnel networks are not the loyalist militiamen’s only card: Gaddafi’s fighters have an intimate knowledge of the city and many are believed to have a greater degree of military training than their opposition guerrilla opponents.

Long the seat of Gaddafi’s power as well as his main Tripoli home, the barracks may well be the final battleground of Libya’s war. Even if Gaddafi is not there, its loss would inflict a potentially crippling symbolic defeat.

Update: 11.06 CST – Live news footage from inside the compound shows rebels pulling the head off  a statue of Gaddafi and are stomping on it and attempting to destroy the statue of a golden fist crushing an American fighter plane. Al Jazeera live stream.

Update: Reports are now coming in that rebels have control over the compound. These reports are coming from AP and CNN reporters. It is unclear whether or not they are accurate and given yesterday’s false reports that Gadaffi’s son had been arrested, they should be viewed as speculation only at the moment.

Al Jazeera
Aug 23, 2011

Rebels have entered the fortified compound of Muammar Gaddafi in Bab al-Azizya in Tripoli, amid intensified fighting with forces loyal to the Libyan leader.

The rebels “broke through the gates of Bab al-Aiziya [and] some opposition fighters managed to enter the government’s stronghold in the Libyan capital,” Al Jazeera’s correspondent Zeina Khodr said, reporting from Tripoli on Tuesday.

“But others were pinned down at the entrance because of heavy fire and we also couldn’t go any further [as] opposition fighters had to take cover from incoming fire,” our correspondent said.

Fighting also continued across the capital for a second day, and columns of grey smoke were seen billowing over the Bab al-Azizya area with the sound of gunfire and occasional explosions ringing out.

Opposition forces were concentrating their firepower on Gaddafi’s compound, our correspondents reported.

Full article here

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