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Rebels fight on amid chaos in Tripoli

Aug. 27, 2011 at 9:53 AM   |   Comments

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TRIPOLI, Libya, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Fighting in Libya has left Tripoli in disarray with hospitals overwhelmed and shortages of food, water and medicine, the United Nations said.

Fighting has waned in the capital but continued in pockets around the country with rebels, from a base in a nearby village, determined to maintain control of the Tripoli International Airport, CNN reported Saturday.

Rebels in the capital are exploring a network of underground tunnels that connect Col. Moammar Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound to the airport.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "All agreed that the crisis in Libya has entered a new and decisive phase. All agreed, as well, on the importance of a smooth transition," referring to talks with the League of Arab States and the African Union, which opposes the release of frozen Libyan assets until the "formation of an inclusive transitional government."

The group includes Algeria and Chad, two countries where Gadhafi may turn to for protection if he manages to flee Libya.

Rebels have offered a $1.4 million reward to anyone who captures Gadhafi dead or alive.

Ban, meanwhile, said millions of people around Tripoli are at risk due to the lack of food, water and medicine.

Gadhafi has not been seen recently, but he has urged loyalist to continue to fight in a radio broadcast.

The British Broadcasting Corp. reported continued fighting near the oil port of Ras Lanuf, where rebels have pulled out of range of loyalist artillery to consolidate efforts and begin a campaign to take nearby Sirte, said to be the last major loyalist stronghold.

Rebels in the west have reportedly taken control of a Ras Jdir, a critical border crossing between Libya and Tunisia, which could allow for Libyans to receive much-needed humanitarian aid.

Back in Tripoli, there are reports that some hospital staff have fled with the International Committee of the Red Cross discovering 200 bodies at a hospital in the Abu Salim district.

Some escaped rebel prisoners, meanwhile, have reported loyalist forces killing detainees, which has provoked a response from Amnesty International.

"Loyalist forces in Libya must immediately stop such killings of captives, and both sides must commit to ensuring no harm comes to prisoners in their custody," Amnesty International said.

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