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A timeline of the conflict in Libya

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Libya crisis: Gadhafi losing control
  • Rebels are seeking the ouster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi
  • Fighting started with anti-government demonstrations and escalated into a civil war
  • International leaders accuse Gadhafi's regime of committing human rights violations
  • Libyan officials repeatedly accuse NATO of killing civilians

(CNN) -- Fighting in Libya started with anti-government demonstrations in February and escalated into a civil war.

For months, Libyan rebels -- who control the eastern city of Benghazi and other areas -- attempted to move closer toward Tripoli, in the west. They are seeking the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi, who has ruled Libya for 42 years.

International powers have accused Gadhafi's regime of committing human rights violations and killing civilians. Libyan officials have repeatedly accused NATO of killing civilians in airstrikes.

Here are some key points CNN has reported in the conflict.

February 14

Three days after the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, calls go out on Facebook for peaceful demonstrations in Libya against leader Moammar Gadhafi. The Libyan leader, who has ruled over the country for more than four decades, voiced support for Mubarak during the Egyptian crisis.

February 16

About 200 demonstrators protesting the arrest of a human activist take to the streets in the coastal city of Benghazi, witnesses say. Several of them are arrested amid confrontations with police. A highly placed source close to the Libyan government tells CNN, "There is nothing serious here. These are just young people fighting each other."

February 18

Libyan state television shows images of men chanting pro-Gadhafi slogans, waving flags and singing around the Libyan leader's limousine as it creeps through Tripoli. In Benghazi, human rights groups and protesters claim they're under attack by pro-government security forces. Among the tens of thousands of protesters who take to the streets, at least 20 people are killed and 200 are wounded, according to medical sources.

February 19

Protests continue to turn violent, however the death and injury toll is unclear. In Benghazi, witnesses report bloody clashes with soldiers firing tear gas and bullets. Witnesses say protests have erupted in cities across the country. Human Rights Watch reports that 84 people have been killed in Libyan demonstrations since February 15.

February 20

Violence surges in Benghazi where a witness says protesters have taken control of the city and much of Tripoli. Gadhafi's son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi appears on state television to warn demonstrators that the country could fall into civil war if their protests do not subside.

February 21

The Libyan newspaper Quryna reports that the country's justice minister has resigned to protest what he calls a "bloody situation and use of excessive force" by security forces against protesters.

February 22

Gadhafi appears on television to dispel rumors that he has fled the country, vowing he will never leave Libya, and "will die as a martyr at the end." The United Nations Security Council issues a statement saying it "condemned the violence and use of force against civilians, deplored the repression against peaceful demonstrators and expressed deep regret at the deaths of hundreds of civilians" in Libya.

February 23

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemns what he calls "egregious violations" of human rights as Libya tries to crush an ongoing revolt, telling reporters that those who have shed "the blood of innocents" must face punishment.

February 25

U.S. President Barack Obama signs an executive order freezing Moammar Gadhafi's assets.

February 26

The United Nations Security Council imposes sanctions against Libya, including an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel bans for Gadhafi and his associates. It also refers Gadhafi to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity. The opposition movement announces that it has picked a leader: Former Justice Minister Mustafa Abdul Jalil.

February 28

The European Union bans the sale of arms and ammunition to Libya and freezes the assets of Gadhafi and five members of his family, while imposing a visa ban on Gadhafi and 15 other people tied to the regime's crackdown.

March 1

The United Nations General Assembly adopts a resolution to oust Libya from its seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council.

March 7

NATO begins round-the-clock surveillance flights of Libya as it considers various options for dealing with escalating violence there.

March 17

The United Nations Security Council votes to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and take "all necessary measures" to protect civilians. The resolution is approved with 10 votes, including those of the United States and the United Kingdom. There are no opposing votes on the 15-member council, but China, Russia, Germany, India and Brazil abstain. Germany says it is concerned about a protracted military conflict.

March 18

Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa says the country has decided on "an immediate cease-fire and the stoppage of all military operations." But sources inside Libya say violence continues.

March 19

French, British and American military forces begin the first phase of Operation Odyssey Dawn, aimed at enforcing the no-fly zone. More than 110 Tomahawk missiles fired from American and British ships and submarines hit about 20 Libyan air and missile defense targets, U.S. Vice Adm. William Gortney says at a Pentagon briefing. The operation is meant "to deny the Libyan regime from using force against its own people," Gortney says.

March 20

Gadhafi, speaking on Libyan state TV, says the U.N. charter provides for Libya's right to defend itself in a "war zone." Weapons depots will be opened, he says. "All you people of the Islamic nations and Africa, and Latin America and Asia, stand with the Libyan people in its fight against this aggression," Gadhafi said.

March 24

NATO agrees to take command of the mission enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya.

March 26

A Libyan woman with bruises all over her body bursts into a Tripoli hotel housing international journalists, shouting that she was taken from a checkpoint and held for two days while 15 of Gadhafi's militiamen beat and raped her. "Look at what Gadhafi's brigades did to me," Eman al-Obeidy says before government officials and hotel staff whisk her outside to car and drive her away. She is not heard from for more than a week. The Libyan government says al-Obeidy is mentally ill and drunk. Officials call her a prostitute. Later, the government changes its story and says the men accused of raping al-Obeidy are being investigated, but the suspects, in turn, file counter-charges for slander.

March 30

Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa arrives in the United Kingdom and tells the government there that he has resigned.

March 31

NATO announces that it has begun Operation Unified Protector in Libya, including an arms embargo, a no-fly zone and "actions to protect civilians and civilian centers."

April 6

Gadhafi urges U.S. President Barack Obama to end the NATO bombing of his war-torn country, making an appeal in a letter to the American president. Gadhafi asks Obama to stop what he calls the "unjust war against a small people of a developing country," adding that those in the opposition are terrorists and members of al Qaeda, the official said.

April 29

In a speech, Gadhafi urges NATO to negotiate an end to airstrikes, accusing the international coalition of killing civilians and destroying the nation's infrastructure in a bid to take over its oil production.

April 30

NATO launches a missile attack on a house in Tripoli. The attack kills one of Gadhafi's sons, Saif al-Arab Gadhafi, and several of his grandchildren.

May 8

Al-Obeidy, who garnered worldwide attention for her vocal allegations of rape against Gadhafi's regime, says she has fled Libya, fearing for her safety. She tells CNN that she has crossed into Tunisia with the help of a defecting military officer and his family. A month later, she finds temporary sanctuary in Qatar before being deported back to Libya.

May 22

The European Union opens an office in the rebel-held Libyan city of Benghazi.

June 8-13

Several countries, including Spain and Germany, recognize the opposition National Transitional Council as Libya's legitimate representative.

June 1

NATO announces that it is extending its mission in Libya for 90 days. Libya's oil minister defects to Italy and tells CNN he left because the suffering of the country's people had become unbearable.

June 14

South African President Jacob Zuma lashes out at NATO, arguing that the organization is misusing the United Nations resolution meant to protect civilians "for regime change, political assassinations and foreign military occupation."

June 27

The International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Sanussi. The warrants are "for crimes against humanity," including murder and persecution, "allegedly committed across Libya" from February 15 through "at least" February 28, "through the state apparatus and security forces," the court says in a news release.

July 15-27

The United States and the United Kingdom join countries recognizing the National Transitional Council as "the legitimate governing authority" in Libya.

July 27

After being granted asylum in the United States, al-Obeidy arrives in New York, then boards a flight to the destination where she will reside. Her arrival in the United States comes after she spends 54 days in a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees facility in Romania.

July 28

Rebel leaders announce that the commander of Libya's rebel army was assassinated in Benghazi along with two senior officers, just hours after claiming big successes on the battlefield.

August 9

Libyan National Transitional Council Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil dismisses the rebels' 14-member executive board, a spokesman for the council says.

August 15

Gadhafi urges Libyans to fight opposition forces and "cleanse this sweet and honorable land." In a speech broadcast on state television, Gadhafi says: "The strikes will be over and NATO will be defeated. Move always forward to the challenge; pick up your weapons; go to the fight in order to liberate Libya inch by inch from the traitors and from NATO. Be prepared to fight if they hit the ground."

August 16

Col. Roland Lavoie, a spokesman for NATO's military operation, tells reporters that "anti-Gadhafi forces are now assuming control of the key approaches to Tripoli." A spokesman for the Gadhafi government offers a different view. "We are doing very well," spokesman Musa Ibrahim says.

August 18

Libyan Prime Minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoodi says the military is "powerful enough to finish this battle" to its advantage, but warned that the cost would be too high, calling again for dialogue to resolve the crisis peacefully rather than militarily. Meanwhile, a brother of Musa Ibrahim, the spokesman for the government in Tripoli, was killed Thursday night by NATO aircraft, a Libyan government official said.

August 19

U.S. officials say Gadhafi may be making preparations for a "last stand" in Tripoli as a monthlong NATO air campaign continues amid reports of rebel advances.

August 20

Libyan rebels have taken their fight inside Tripoli, home to the embattled Libyan leader, a rebel spokesman says.

Government spokesman Musa Ibrahim insists that all is safe and well. He says the Libyan capital remains under government control. Libyan officials reject rebel claims that Gadhafi is seeking refuge for his family, saying that neither the leader nor his wife and children plan to leave the country.

August 21

In an audio-only address on state television, Gadhafi calls on Libyans to rally to the defense of Tripoli, as rebels capture two of his sons. The International Criminal Court says it plans to negotiate the transfer of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, who is wanted for crimes against humanity, along with his father. Rebels declare Sunday "Day 1," saying "Gadhafi is already finished," while NATO says the regime is "crumbling." Government spokesman Musa Ibrahim says some 1,300 people are killed and about 5,000 wounded in 12 hours of fighting.

August 22

A rebel spokesman says Libya is under the control of the opposition, but intense clashes still rage in parts of Tripoli. Rebels say three of Gadhafi's sons have been detained, but rebel and international leaders say the leader's whereabouts are unknown. "The real moment of victory is when Gadhafi is captured," National Transitional Council chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil tells reporters.

August 23

Rebels capture Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound, aided by NATO airstrikes. But neither Gadhafi nor his family members are found.

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi shows up at the Rixos hotel, quashing the rebels' claim that he and two brothers were in their custody. In a brief interview with CNN, he says his father and several of his sisters are safe in Tripoli. Another Gadhafi son, Mohammed Gadhafi, reportedly escapes from rebel custody, the Libyan ambassador to the United States says. It remains unclear whether Saadi Gadhafi -- the third son the rebels claimed to have captured -- is actually in custody.

Bahrain recognizes Libya's National Transitional Council as the county's "sole legitimate representative," according to Bahrain's state-run news agency.

August 24

Libyan rebels weather resistance from Gadhafi forces in several volatile pockets across Tripoli, and a few dozen journalists kept hostage for days by the strongman's armed supporters dramatically win their freedom. Rebels work to topple remnants of the Gadhafi military apparatus as special forces from Britain, France, Jordan and Qatar -- already on the ground in Libya -- beef up operations to help them. Gadhafi purportedly delivers another defiant audio message but his whereabouts remain unknown.

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