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Battle rages for Tripoli as rebels meet resistance

Battle rages for Tripoli as rebels meet resistance
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Libyan rebels have been celebrating their rapid success in taking over most of Tripoli – but the battle goes on, with pockets of Gaddafi loyalists holding out and heavy fighting reported.

euronews followed the rebels on the last leg of their journey from Zawiyah and captured the moment as the ecstatic soldiers swept into Tripoli.

There was a volley of celebratory gunfire as the rebels approached the central Green Square – a symbol of the Gaddafi era, now renamed its original title of Martyr’s Square.

The rebels had expected to use their weapons in combat. The regime had promised bloodshed; Gaddafi had called on all Libyans to defy those he called “rats”.

But the only encounters that euronews witnessed on the road into the capital were with crowds of jubilant locals.

“Gaddafi is a dog”, one man cried, while others waved flags and the rebels sounded their horns and fired their guns.

Come daylight, and although there was still euphoria there was also tension. Commanders said Tripoli was 80 percent in rebel hands, and that they had taken control of the state TV station.

But close to Gaddafi’s compound units of the elite Khamis brigades and mercenaries have put up fierce resistance.

euronews filmed roadblocks and makeshift fortifications set up by rebels in the district of Ghiran.

The control they exert on parts of Tripoli has fluctuated. In this area there was an uneasy calm.

One rebel soldier said:

“There are no more (regular) soldiers. There are only volunteers and some mercenaries with him (Gaddafi). These people are fooling themselves because the regime has fallen and Tripoli also has fallen, and Gaddafi is finished.”

As sporadic gunfire rang out, bravado gave way to nervous unease. It was clear that here, as elsewhere in the city, the rebels did not have absolute control.

“There are many snipers from Gaddafi military…. we can not go.. that side is not safe,” said one young man, as he pointed up the road.

There was no more euphoria here, only the fear of a counter-offensive.

euronews correspondent Mustafa Bağ in Tripoli said the rebels were regrouping and preparing for a possible evening attack by pro-Gaddafi forces.

“There are rumours that troops loyal to him may attack the rebels within the next few hours in the capital,” he said. “That’s why rebel leaders are cautious and wary about it. Meanwhile local people in Tripoli who declare themselves pro-Gaddafi are fleeing the capital to Tunisia, as they’re afraid of revenge attacks by rebels.”