Heavy Clashes Near Qaddafi Compound As Rebels Overtake Most Of Tripoli

Heavy clashes broke out near Muammar al-Qaddafi’s compound in Tripoli Monday as rebels fought to overtake the remaining areas controlled by forces loyal to the Libyan leader.

Rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Rahman says that tanks emerged from the complex, known as Bab al-Aziziya, early Monday and began firing.

An Associated Press reporter at the nearby Rixos Hotel where foreign journalists are staying could hear gunfire and loud explosions that have been going on for more than 30 minutes.

No further details were immediately available on the fighting.

The rebels raced into Tripoli Sunday and met little resistance as Qaddafi’s defenders melted away and his 42-year rule rapidly crumbled. The euphoric fighters celebrated with residents of the capital in Green Square, the symbolic heart of the regime.

By Monday morning, a rebel spokesman told Al Jazeera that Qaddafi loyalists only controlled between 15 and 20 percent of the city, Reuters reported.

Abdel-Rahman says that Qaddafi troops remain a threat to rebels advanced into the city Sunday, and that as long as Qaddafi remains on the run the “danger is still there.”

Associated Press reporters with the rebels said they reached the Tripoli suburb of Janzour around nightfall Sunday. They were greeted by civilians lining the streets and waving rebel flags.

Qaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, was captured by rebel forces as they overtook the city. Al-Islam faces charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands. Another son was under house arrest.

“It’s over, frizz-head,” chanted hundreds of jubilant men and women massed in Green Square, using a mocking nickname of the curly-haired Qaddafi. The revelers fired shots in the air, clapped and waved the rebels’ tricolor flag. Some set fire to the green flag of Qaddafi’s regime and shot holes in a poster with the leader’s image.

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