Tripoli free from Kadhafi grip
By Essam Mohamed for Magharebia in Tripoli – 29/08/11
The last bastions of Moamer Kadhafi's Tripoli are now under rebel control. Revolutionary forces cleared the area surrounding Qasr Ben Ghasheer Street on Saturday (August 27th) after pushing loyalist troops out of the Abu Slim neighbourhood.
"The revolutionaries entered Abu Slim neighbourhood, clearing it and handing weapons to some neighbourhood elements that support the February 17th revolution in order to secure it," said Dr Mohamed Salem Ameesh, a co-ordinator for the February 17th coalition in Tripoli."
More than a hundred rotting corpses were uncovered at the Abu Slim hospital following the Kadhafi retreat.
"All revolutionary factions were merged into one command under the military council of Tripoli to unify efforts," al-Mahdi al-Harati, a rebel field commander said at a Thursday press conference. "That council is headed by Abdul Hakim Belhaj…. The mission of the council is to protect civilians and properties, and to return weapons to storehouses."
"We controlled al-Yarmuk camp and the headquarters of Khamis armoured brigade," al-Harati said, noting that Tripoli is completely freed except for some pockets hiding among civilians.
He also denied accusations that al-Qaeda militants were among the rebels.
"There are no extremists or militants among the revolutionaries; we're from all the Libyan people across the spectrum, and all Libyans are kind and follow the Maliki sect," he said.
Despite being free of Kadhafi's grip, much of the capital is without running water after pro-Kadhafi troops in the town of Bani Walid cut off electricity to the Great Man-Made River system. Tripoli residents are coping with the situation by sharing water amongst themselves and relying on those with their own wells.
The National Transitional Council (NTC) has called on workers to restore service to the system. Rumours that pro-Kadhafi forces poisoned the water with chlorine proved unfounded.
At a press conference last Thursday at the al-Mehari Hotel in the heart of Tripoli, the NTC official responsible for oil and finance, Ali al-Tarhouni, called on policemen to return to work and help preserve security.
"A crisis committee will be formed to deal with the provision of food supplies and medicine," al-Tarhouni said. He added that plans were in place to restart the Az-Zawiya oil refinery.
The NTC also pledged to protect foreigners and their properties, and called on those still supporting Kadhafi to lay down their weapons and return home, promising fair trials to those who spilled blood.
"Our promise is that there will be justice between us and them, and that we will build the new Libya without spilling blood. We're more dignified than that regime and won't use their methods," the NTC official said.
They also promised to accept the agreements and treaties that were previously made with foreign countries before the revolution.
Several suburbs of Tripoli are also under rebel control. Residents of Tajoura, 17 kilometres from downtown Tripoli, rallied last week in celebration of the expulsion of pro-Kadhafi forces.
The Tajoura rallies converged on the town square, renamed al-Shaheed al-Hatemi after the first Tajoura resident killed at the beginning of Libyan revolution.
Tajoura was one of the first towns to rise up against Kadhafi in February. As a hotspot of resistance, the government cracked down, forcing many residents to flee to Tunisia and the Nafusa Mountains.
Abdul Shafi, a field commander and head of the National Transitional Council (NTC) in Hamidiya, Tajoura said that security and military committees have been formed, munitions counted and public institutions secured.
"We're prepared for any confrontation with any enemy who tries to advance into the area. There is also co-ordination and support between us and Souk al-Juma revolutionaries," Shafi said.
In his turn, Mohammed Youssef, a participant in the Tajoura rally said: "Those who are with Moamer are just Hs. and Is." When asked what he meant by Hs and Is, he said: "hungry and ignorant".
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