In an interview with Qatar's Al Jazeera satellite channel, Abdul Jalil
said rebel forces attacked Tripoli in an operation that also activated
sleeper cells. He said NATO struck Gadhafi facilities
throughout Tripoli in support of the rebels.
The rebels were said to have fired mortars and light weapons in several
neighborhoods in Tripoli while additional anti-Gadhafi forces reached the
city. They said the initial attack, part of what was called Operation
Mermaid, was conducted by a rebel force supplied by tugboats sent to Tripoli
on Aug. 19.
"The fighters in Tripoli are rising up in two places at the moment,"
rebel commander Col. Fadlallah Haroun said. "Some are in the Tajoura
neighborhood, and the other is near the Matiga [international] airport."
The Gadhafi regime has acknowledged rebel operations in Tripoli. By
late Aug. 21, Gadhafi himself confirmed that rebels reached Tripoli and
called on civilians to grab weapons and fight for the regime.
"I am giving the order to open the weapons stockpiles," Gadhafi said in
his second broadcast within 24 hours. "I call on all Libyans to join this
fight. Those who are afraid, give your weapons to your mothers or sisters."
NATO has refused to confirm what officials termed "formal coordination"
with the Libyan rebels. But the Western alliance said it was monitoring the
Libyan Army and attacking remnants of Gadhafi's forces, which continued to
fight on Aug. 22.
"We will continue to monitor military units and key facilities, as we
have since March, and when we see any threatening moves towards the Libyan
people, we will act in accordance with our United Nation mandate," NATO
secretary-general Anders Rasmussen said on Aug. 22. "Our goal throughout
this conflict has been to protect the people of Libya, and that is what we
The rebels have reported the capture of Zawiya as well as a military
base 25 kilometers from Tripoli. The base, which fell with little
resistance, was said to have housed the army's 32nd Brigade, commanded by
Gadhafi's son, Khamis. Two of Gadhafi's sons — Mohammed and Seif Al
Islam — were already reported in rebel hands, while their father was said
to have remained in Tripoli.
"We have confirmed information that our people have captured Seif Al
Islam," Abdul Jalil said. "We have given instructions to treat him well so
that he can face trial."