Rebel forces
Libyan rebels cheer under the pre-Gadhafi flag. Image: B.R.Q/Flickr/cc by

Tripoli, the capital city of Libya, fell to rebel insurgents Sunday, bringing to an end 42 years of rule by Moammar Gadhafi. The fallen leader remains in hiding as thousands cheer in the streets.

Rebels easily take city

Six months of civil war came to an end Sunday as rebels swiftly moved in and took control of Tripoli with surprising ease. Despite remaining pockets of resistance, Gadhafi’s forces crumbled and faded into the shadows.

‘It’s over, frizz-head’

Crowds chanted in the streets, “It’s over, frizz-head,” using a derogatory nickname for Gadhafi which, until now, was spoken only in whispers.

This final push came as a result of a collaboration between NATO, rebels and residents inside the city who opposed the long-time leader. Rebel forces advanced 20 miles into the city in a matter of hours, taking town after town as citizens cheered them on in the streets. Citizens, secretly armed by rebels, rose up and joined them.

City guards surrender

Upon reaching the gates of Tripoli, the battalion entrusted to guarding the city quickly surrendered. The commander of the battalion, whose brother was executed under Gadhafi’s orders years before, was secretly sympathetic to the rebels.

Gadhafi, in a futile series of radio broadcasts, called on his supporters to take to the streets and “purify it” of the “rats.” The former leader has not been heard from since and his whereabouts remain a mystery.

Obama announces support

President Obama announced his support of the rebels from Martha’s Vineyard, where he is vacationing. “The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people,” the president said.

Gadhafi’s sons

Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, was captured. He and his father have both been charged with crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands. Another son, Mohammed, who was under house arrest, was also detained. Gadhafi’s two other sons, Khamis and Mutassim, are thought to be with the remaining loyalist forces.

Gadhafi ruled Libya for 42 years

Gadhafi has ruled the oil-rich desert nation for 42 years. Often accused of being a violent and oppressive leader, he came under international fire when he was blamed for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, that left 270 dead. For years Gadhafi denied responsibility, but finally admitted to the act and paid $10 million to families of the victims. That act of contrition did much to improve his image with the international community. However, on February 22, after the rebel uprising began, Gadhafi made a speech which fueled the rebellion and emboldened many to join the cause. In the speech, Gadhafi promised to hunt down protestors “inch by inch, room by room, home by home, alleyway by alleyway.”

‘Long live free Libya’

Internet service returned to Tripoli today for the first time in six months. Rebel leaders sent text messages to the city’s residents, saying “Long live free Libya.”


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