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Gadhafi's Decades Long Rule on Libya Appears to be Coming to an End; Syrian Crackdown; Israel-Gaza Tension.

Aired August 22, 2011 - 02:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching special CNN Coverage of the Libyan uprising.

Welcome back, I am Rosemary Church.

Well events have been unfolding rapidly in Western Libya. There have been some celebrations in Tripoli over what could soon be the fall of long time Libyan strong man, Moammar Gadhafi. Anti-regime forces say they are now in control of most parts of the capital but the Rebel's do caution there are still some pockets of resistance in the city. Colonel Gadhafi's whereabouts still unknown at this point. There have been plenty of rumours though but no one seems to know for sure.

Opposition Leaders have captured three of his sons, Seif, Saadi and Al-Jazeera reports Rebels have arrested Mohammed Gadhafi.

Also, developing this hour our CNN crew is hearing sounds of sporadic gunfire and explosions coming from the direction of Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli, the Bab Al-Azizia Compound which you can see here on the map has been blasted regularly since the start of the international intervention in Libya on March 19th and Senior Producer, Jomana Karadsheh, joins us now on the line from Tripoli.

So tell us, just bring us up to date if you would, what exactly has been happening, certainly in the last hour or so.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN PRODUCER (via telephone): Hi Rosemary, well in the past hour and a half ago we started hearing some sporadic gunfire and several explosions coming from the direction of the Bab Al-Azizia Compound, the Compound of Moammar Gadhafi. We are now hearing this intensifying, definitely more explosions. We're seeing some smoke rising from the direction and also as I try to step outside on the balcony, because of all the gunfire that's going on we could also hear some chanting in the distance. It's very difficult to hear what they are chanting. We're about a kilometre, less than a mile away from the Bab Al-Azizia Compound but it does seem that there is a battle around that Compound and it's intensifying and as you have mentioned Rosemary this is a Compound that has been targeted regularly by NATO airstrikes since March. On regular visits there, usually after airstrikes there isn't much that is left in Bab Al-Azizia Compound so it could be more of a symbolic fight for this Compound that has symbolized Moammed Gadhafi and his role in Libya and a symbol of the regime here in Tripoli. CHURCH: All right. Senior Producer Jomana Karadsheh talking there on the line from Tripoli. Thanks so much.

Well, throughout the uprising Gadhafi Loyalists have gathered in Green Square in the capitol but as the opposition began to invade Tripoli Rebels poured into the symbolic site and of course it has now been renamed Martyr Square and our Sara Sidner was there several hours ago and filed this report.


SARAH SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are in Martyr Square and what you are seeing behind me are the Rebels are now saying that there is going to be a massive battle here. They do not have full control of the city.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the moment we are not in full control of Tripoli. You can see, you can see that.

SIDNER: How do you feel about this day, you are frantically -- why is this day important?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is history today because we had to leave from here scared and without anything and now we have to fight. I am not a fighter, I am a student and it's my first time tonight.

SIDNER: The civilians are now fleeing from here and we also have to leave.

What's happening is everyone has started fleeing and we are here in the middle of Tripoli and what we're seeing is Rebels all over the Square, there are really no civilians, they are mostly men with guns in the Square but we are also seeing people running and there is a lot of gunfire. They say they are snipers. We all had to pull back and the situation is very tense here but there is a lot of celebrating going on here and some of this is just gunfire in the air but people are very concerned because they say there were snipers coming from the top of some of these buildings and they are not sure exactly where some of this gunfire is coming from so every now and then you see people just running, trying to get out of the way but right now the Rebels have Green Square and it is an historic moment here in Tripoli, in capitol, the real stronghold of Moammar Gadhafi has now been taken over by the Rebels.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Tripoli.


CHURCH: Now of course we have other CNN crews in Libya and one reports, as we have told you, of hearing sporadic gunfire and explosions coming from the direction of Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi's Compound in Tripoli. The Bab Al-Azizia Compound has been blasted, as we mentioned too, regularly since NATO began its military intervention March 19th.

Our Matthew Chance is at the hotel where international journalists have been staying and from there he tells us about the lightening attack of Rebels from West of Town.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well these have been dramatic hours here in Tripoli. No one would have guessed this city, this stronghold of Colonel Gadhafi would have fallen so quickly. From the West of Tripoli, Rebels entering from the town of Zuia, being greeted by celebration and fireworks being set off and crowds, you know, celebrating the fact the Rebels have come in.

Also, according to the Government earlier in the day, the Rebels controlling some Eastern suburbs as well. Throughout this evening there have been gun battles with heavy machine gun fire and rocket propelled grenades exploding. Clashes between the various armed brutes the Gadhafi loyalists on one side and the opposition fighters on the other vying for control for areas of the city but, you know, there has been a big question here. What is happened to the resistance that was meant to be taking place that was promised by Government officials and by Gadhafi himself. He said and Government officials said that there were tens of thousands of well trained professional soldiers with heavy weapons, well armed and committed to defending this city. That kind of resistance, in many areas of Tripoli just didn't happen, as I say, in some areas there were clashes with Government forces but in others the Rebels simply walked in to celebrations of the local population. Tripoli was finally out of the hands, at least parts of it, out of the hands of Colonel Gadhafi and in the hands of these opposition fighers.

Matthew Chance, CNN in Tripoli.


CHURCH: Now, as Rebels and Gadhafi loyalists fight what could be the final battle for Tripoli, people living in the Libyan capital are finding ways to express their joy to the outside world and a short time ago Jonathan Mann spoke with one young woman about the change she has seen Libya go through.


TRIPOLI RESIDENT (via telephone): We haven't completely got over Colonel Gadhafi, we're still, we're in our final stages and we are waiting for I think the last group who are coming down from the mountains and they are going to be cleaning up the streets and making check points to make sure that everything is safe and once we know that everything is safe and once we know that everything is safe we will all be out in Martyr Square dancing and finally celebrating the freedom that we all desevere.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN REPORTER: Just to come back to your own remark about your own safety. Why, as a woman don't you feel it's safe quite yet? Are you afraid of the fighters and all the men who have poured into the city?

TRIPOLI RESIDENT: Of course, all of the men are armed and obviously six months ago we didn't want it to be like this. We only went out asking for our freedom, expecting it to go down easily without so much fire and deaths and casualties. It didn't go down as we expected but the old regime, the previous regime, sorry, decided that he was going to shoot at us and we needed to defend ourselves and shoot back and now all of the freedom fighters and now well equipped in comparison to the previous six months and so that is the only people that are allowed out. Nobody without weapons is allowed out or should be out anyway.

MANN: Is it hard for people to simply get food and water and get gasoline and electricity that they need. I'm just curious about the two million people who live in Tripoli, how they are getting by right now?

TRIPOLI RESIDENT: That's been hard for the past six months, it's now hard now. Right now, I'm pretty sure that we are all capable of sitting down without electricity and without food and without food or gasoline. We're all capable of doing it for another two days just so that he leaves and lets us be -- live our freedom.

MANN: Do you think it will be just another two days? Moammar Gadhafi has held on to power for 42 years. Do you think this is now over or do you expect, do you fear that he will fight to stay in place?

TRIPOLI RESIDENT: No, I think that we have proved that we are smarter than him at the end of the day. He proved to us that he doesn't know who we are and we proved to him that we are a lot better than him and we are a lot smarter. It might have been a long six months and it's been that but at the end of the day we're the ones that is right and God always makes sure that the people who are right wins.

MANN: Now, we're not going to identify you but anybody who is listening can tell that you are a young woman so let me ask you as a young person. How much has your life changed because of what has happened in the last six months or what has happened just over the last two days?

TRIPOLI RESIDENT: Well, we just got our internet back tonight and it's been gone since March. I was looking at my -- the past Facebook messages that we've been sending and what we were worried about. It it's not -- and like the past things I was talking about with my friends. It's like we were such children. Everything just is so different. We're looking at life in such a different way. I can say that on behalf of every Libyan. Everyone is looking at life in such a different way. We have different goals, we're different people, better, happier. And it it's not even the end yet. We all grew up, if that's the right word to say. We're all mature.


CHURCH: Well, we have been showing you the joy of Rebel forces as they rolled into Tripoli on Sunday and settled in Green Square, which they now call Martyrs Square. Across the country, there was this.

The Rebels' first stronghold Benghazi celebrated Sunday's victory in Western Libya. Thousands celebrated Benghazi's Freedom Square. Others fired guns in celebration. Benghazi is the current seat of the Rebel Leadership, the Transitional National Council resides there.

And this was the scene in Misrata, a city besieged by Gadhafi's forces for months in the early part of the conflict. Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Misrata as Libyan Rebels enter Tripoli's central Green Square or Martyrs Square. With scant resistance from forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.

The Libyan Port City is roughly 210 kilometres west of Tripoli.

Now Libya coverage continues here on CNN.

Coming up -- we've seen how some Libyans are reacting to developments in Tripoli. We'll hear what some world leaders have to say about it. Do stay with us.


CHURCH: Well, NATO says Moammar Gadhafi's regime is clearly crumbling. Secretary General Anders Files Molsen released the following statement saying, and I'm quoting here directly, "The sooner Gadhafi realizes that he cannot win the battle against his own people, the better. So that the Libyan people can be spared further bloodshed and suffering. The Libyan people have suffered tremendously under Gadhafi's rule for over four decades. Now they have a chance for a new beginning. Now is the time for all threats against civilians to stop, as the United Nations Security Council demanded. Now is the time to create a new Libya, a state based on freedom, not fear, democracy, not dictatorship. The will of the many, not the whims of a few".

Well, world leaders have been reacting to the situation in Libya via Twitter. Here's what a few of them are saying.

From Jordan, Queen Noor, tweeted, Libya has not been a short space of time but months of sacrifice and dedication. Did anyone really think Tripoli would resist hope for freedom?

This from Australia's Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, new challenges just beginning for the new Libya. Oz continues as one of the larger international humanitarian supporters.

U.K. Prime Minister, David Cameron said this, it is clear from the scenes we are witnessing in Tripoli that the end is near for Gadhafi.

U.S. Senator John McCain and former U.S. Presidential Candidate tweeted, freedom for Libya, now the hard work of democracy begins and the U.S. should help.

Well, indeed U.S. President Barack Obama is vacationing on Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts Coast, and officials have been briefing the President on the latest developments in Libya.

On Sunday evening, Mr. Obama issued a statement saying the Gadhafi regime has reached a tipping point. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator. The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple -- Gadhafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end. He needs to relinquish power once and for all.

Moammar Gadhafi has confounded the international community for decades now. He's known for colorful eccentricities and long firey speeches. While that seems bizarre and amusing, he also could be quite calculating and very deadly.

Hala Gorani has a profile of Colonel Gadhafi.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) HALA GORANI, CNN REPORTER: As a 27-year-old army officer, Moammar Gadhafi overthrew Libya's king in 1969 and then set about wiping all foreign influence from the country, including all vestages of communism or capitalism, publishing his personal philosophy in a three-volume green book. Gadhafi always said that his goal was to change the world, but it was the way he set out to do it that amused, confused, and often infuriated.

Gadhafi said he wanted to unite the Arab world and even proclaimed a merger with Libya, Egypt and Syria in 1972. That merger plan fell apart. A later merger attempt with Tunisia disintegrated into bitter animosity.

Maintaining a colorful profile whenever he went, he made a point of emphasizing his Bedwin roots, sleeping in tents, protected by an eye- catching female security detail. His speeches were legendary, for both length and bombast. This 2009 speech at the U.N. was typical.

COLONEL MOAMMAR GADHAFI (via translator): We are not committed to obey the rules or the resolutions of the Security Council because it is undemocratic, unjust.

GORANI: What was supposed to be a 15-minute talk rambled on more than 90 minutes. But while he sometimes appeared a clown on the world stage, his actions were often deadly. In the mid '80s he funnelled money and weapons to support the Palestine liberation organisations fight against Israel. The Irish Republic's army to defeat British rule in Northern Ireland and he viciously targeted Americans.

In 1986, Libyan agents were accused of bombing a Berlin nightclub, killing two Americans and a Turk. U.S. President Ronald Reagan responded by bombing Tripoli, targeting Gadhafi's house. The raid killed more than 100 people, including Gadhafi's own daughter.

Two years later Pan AM flight 102 blew up over the tiny village of Lockerbie, Scotland, raining debris and taking 270 lives. It was traced to Libya. Libya refused to turn over the suspects, the U.N. imposed tough sanctions leaving the country isolated and increasingly destitute.

After 11 years as an international outcast, Gadhafi cut a deal. He gave up the Lockerbie bombing suspects for trial and after the U.S. invaded Iraq, he surprised the world by agreeing to destroy all of his chemicals, nuclier and biological weapons.

Gadhafi soon welcomed western oil companies like BP and others into Libya. But questions lingered as to whether some western oil contracts were traded for Scotland's release of one of the convicted Lockerbie bombers.

He didn't given up the bizarre behavior. On a 2009 visit to Italy, he invited 200 models to his Ambassador's house, paying each $75 to listen to lectures on Islam and giving each a copy of the Koran.

Back home, patience was running thin. After more than 40 years, rebellion bubbled up in the eastern part of the country, quickly spreading across Libya. As his Government disintegrated, he addressed the nation from the same house bombed by the U.S. in 1986.

GADHAFI (via translator): This is my country, the country of my grandfathers

GORANI: He vowed to die a martyr in Libya.

Hala Gorani, CNN.


CHURCH: For more analysis on the situation on the ground in Libya and where Rebels go from here, I'm joined by Barak Bafi, a Research Fellow at the New America Foundation. He's in the Rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Thank you for talking with us.

We'll be interested in getting your thoughts as you see what is happening unfolding so very quickly now after what appeared to be quite a stalemate for some time.

BARAK BAFI, RESEARCH FELLOW AT THE NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION, BENGHAZI (via telephone): Definitely after six months of rebellion and NATO attacks, Gadhafi finally fell. It took us all by surprise, the swiftness of the Rebel sweep into the capital.

Basically, what happened at the it end of the campaign is that Rebels within the cities of Zawiyah and Ga Iran and Tripoli the capital rose up and did not need the support of NATO or the Rebel Forces coming from the east and the west to take the city. They were in position for many months waiting for the green light from their commanders in Benghazi, and the end came very swiftly for Gadhafi and his forces.

CHURCH: As we watch this unfold -- of course, we have to emphasize we do not know where Gadhafi is at this point -- we do know that three of his sons have been captured. Let's look here at what is likely to happen now, should this go forward. It seems inevitable that this is the end of Gadhafi. What happens after this? Because there is a fear that political transition won't take place as quickly as it would need to in these sorts of circumstances. So what then?

BAFI: Well, the first thing we have to hope for is it won't be -- where we see a sequel to what happened in Iraq following the fall of President Saddam Hussein in 2003 where he escaped from Baghdad and was able to lead an insurgency campaign against the American forces.

The first thing the Rebels need to do is capture Gadhafi before he escapes possibly to the south through Tunisia or Algeria. That is the first thing they want to do. Secondly, they need to secure the capital and make sure there's no revenge killings, chaos and looting we saw in Baghdad following Saddam Hussein's fall. There are a lot of steps that the Rebel's need to take. It appears they're transitioning in that direction. What we're hearing in Benghazi is the Rebel command is sending out soldiers on the ship to Tripoli today to try to secure the capital and that's a step in the right direction Rosemary.

CHURCH: You mentioned the possibility of Moammar Gadhafi going to another country, but he has said repeatedly that he wants to die on Libyan soil, that he will stand his ground. And it will be hard for him, presumably, for him to leave at this point, certainly by air.

BAFI: Gadhafi is a son of Libya. He was born in a tent and he wants to die in a tent in his homeland. It it's very unlikely he'll try to escape. As you know, Gadhafi is really out of touch with what's going on around him. That said, we have to know that he does have support in society. If we look at the areas that were still under his rule in the last days of his regime, it was basically the tribal areas to the east and to the south of Tripoli, and those are the strongholds of the war fellow tribe and another tribe on which he relied for 40 years to help his rule. He does have support there.

Last week I was in the city of Brega, the Rebel's liberated and I was able to see some of the graffiti that some of his escaped soldiers wrote before they fled the city. They were very vocal in their praises of Gadhafi, even people who believed in Gadhafi and they weren't just hired mercenaries, so there is support left for him in society.

CHURCH: Indeed, Barak Bafi with the new America Foundation, in the stronghold of Benghazi, thanks for talking with us.

Our coverage continues of the Libyan uprising. Just ahead, we'll have a look at how the Asian markets are faring amid the upheaval in Libya. All that and the very latest on the situation in Tripoli here on WORLD REPORT on CNN.


CHURCH: Let's take a look now at the events in Libya as they've unfolded over the last several hours. In Tripoli, shooting and explosions are being reported in the vicinity of Moammar Gadhafi's Compound.

The reports come as the Rebels say they have captured three of Gadhafi's sons. Earlier it was thought two, but there's three. A diplomatic source reports that Gadhafi may still be inside his Tripoli compound.

In Benghazi, tens of thousands of Libyans celebrated the arrest of Gadhafi's sons and the partial fall of Tripoli. The crowds gathered at Benghazi's Freedom Square Sunday and one eyewitness says the crowds were expecting Gadhafi's fall.

In Al Brega, the Libyan Transitional National Council Ambassador to the United States tells CNN Gadhafi brigades have surrendered in Al Brega. CNN hasn't confirmed that claim.

Events in Libya are having a big impact on the price of oil. Ramy Inocencio joins us with that and also an update on the Asia markets which have been reeling in recent weeks. Ramy, let's start with the markets and then to the oil.

RAMY INOCENCIO, CNN ASIA BUSINESS ANALYST: Sounds good. First of all, markets here had been jumping back and forth across the flat line today. They're mostly in the red now by as much as one percent. As you mentioned, extending big losses from last Friday as well as most of last week. That is all on fears of a slowing global economy.

Right now the Nikkei is down by about one percent. It's the same story with exporters as last week. They're down because of a stronger Yen, Toyota, for example, is down more than two and a half percent. Nissan is down by more than four percent.

Now, last Friday the Yen hit a new post-war record of 75.95, breaking through that 76.25 marker hit right after the March 11th quake and tsunami. With, that the Bank of Japan is saying it may intervene in the currency again.

In Hong Kong, the Heng Seng is down more than one percent. Oil and shipping are down, CNOOC, which is China's biggest oil producer is down more than one percent. Also Cosco Pacific which is one of the largest operators of shipping terminals is down more than four percent. They're both extending losses from last Friday as well.

The Shanghai Composite is down four tenths of a percent following the region's loss down two and also Australia's ASX 200 also in the red by half a percent, after staying flat for most of the day.

There are two companies of note to tell you about. One is Bluescope Steel, this is down more than eight percent right now after disappointing earnings came out and also news of about 1,000 layoffs.

On the flip side, MacArthur Coal has jumped by about two and a half percent. Reports are also out that China's Civic Group and Anglo American might make a bid for this company, in direct competion to U.S.-based Peabody Energy.

CHURCH: Of course, Ramy, we know that Libya is an oil-rich nation. What is the impact of what is happening in the country having on the price of oil?

INOCENCEO: Analysts are seeing this as the end game in Libya. If true, that means a more peaceful period in the country. With that, the price of oil today has fallen by about three percent. It's now trading right here at about $105 a barrel. Earlier today I spoke with an Oil Analyst, Neil Beverage. He said we should expect prices to fall even lower for the rest of the year and added that the supply from a more peaceful Libya, theoretically would have an impact on this. Of course, not to mention in the bigger picture slowing global economy because of the U.S. with that data out there, Europe and those debt issues as well as a slowing China.

CHURCH: Thanks for keeping an eye on all of that, Ramy.

The Libyan Rebels were untrained and disorganized at the start, but they turned to some outside help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty clear the NATO Forces of the French and British Advisers and perhaps others are in there and helping them plan and organize this. Because what you've seen in the last four weeks is a dramatic improvement in the ability of the Rebels to maneuver on the ground.

CHURCH And we will talk to a Former NATO Commander about how the Rebels turned things around with help from above.


CHURCH: Welcome back to WORLD REPORT. I'm Rosemary Church here at CNN Center.

Here's another look at the situation in Libya. Embattled Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi's whereabouts may be unknown, but a CNN Producer in Tripoli says there have been explosions near Gadhafi's Compound in Tripoli. Also it's reported that Gadhafi may still be inside that Compound.

People celebrated in parts of Tripoli as anti-Gadhafi forces announced they are in control of most of the capital. Dozens of cars with Rebel flags sped into town from the west, but the Rebels caution that there are still some pockets of resistance in the city.

It appears three of Colonel Gadhafi's sons are under arrest. Opposition Leaders and other sources say Rebel Forces have captured the sons Sadi, Saif and one more. Mohammed Gadhafi has also been arrested, it it's reported.

Moammar Gadhafi has been leading Libya for more than 40 years now and has some fiercely loyal supporters. But if the dictator is forced from power, will he have any friends?

We put that question to Libya's Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. Take a listen.


AREF ALI NAYED, AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: I don't think that he has supporters. Yes, he has some slaves who kind of worship him out of fear and out of having become used to worshipping him for 42 years.

However, we're finding that even the closest people to him are now discovering their liberty. And in every human being's heart is a longing for freedom and even the circles around him are discovering the light for freedom. And we believe that most people will abandon Gadhafi. And even the ones who do not abandon him and want to fight to the end, due process will be provided.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: Now, early this morning NATO Secretary-General released a statement saying Moammar Gadhafi's rule is, quote, clearly crumbling. NATO responded to a demand from a demand from the Libyan Government spokesperson that the Military Alliance stop bombing Libyan targets.

Here is what the NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu told us.


OANA LUNGESCU, NATO SPOKESPERSON (via telephone): Those responsible for starting the bloodshed in Libya are the Gadhafi regime as the United Nations Security Council Resolution made very clear, the mandate to NATO is to continue protecting civilians and civilian populated areas against the attacks and threat of attacks. And what we've seen consistently, systematically and brutally are attacks by the Gadhafi regime ever since February. And NATO has consistently implemented that mandate, and we have saved countless lives since we started this mission.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So, as far as you're concerned, what is the way out of this situation?

LUNGESCU: Well, I think what we are seeing tonight is that the regime is crumbling and the sooner Moammar Gadhafi realizes there's no way he can win this war against his people that he has started, the better for everyone so that the Libyan people can start the transition to democracy that they want and they deserve and they can start that sooner rather than later.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And what I got from my interview with Musa Ibrahim is that it basically they are worried about retaliation and it seemed to me that what they were saying is they cannot give up the battle because that means that they will be killed by the other side. So what can actually be done to get out of this impasse?

LUNGESCU: Well, NATO is -- Security Council Mandate and that is to protect civilians, to enforce a no-fly zone and arms embargo. It is for the United Nations and the contact group to take the leading role in negotiating a political solution to this conflict, and that political solution has been on the table for many months now and the Gadhafi regime has consistently refused it. And it's the Gadhafi regime that has been using human shields, that's been using mosques and hospitals and children's playgrounds as shields for continued attacks. And what you are seeing now on the ground is, to a certain extent, the cumulative effect of NATO's action over the past five months or so. We've taken out over 4,000 legitimate military targets. We've degraded Gadhafi's capacity to attack.


CHURCH: Well, NATO has been enforcing a no-fly zone, an arms embargo and has bombed Libyan Government forces as part of its mission to protect civilians in Libya's civil war.

Some more details about NATO's role in Libya. NATO started the mission on March 31st. Since then, NATO has flown more than 19,000 sorties. That number includes more than 7,000 air strike missions. NATO's mission is to protect Libyan civilians, as we mentioned, while enforcing a U.N. arms embargo and no-fly zone.

The effort to unseat Moammar Gadhafi hasn't been an entirely Rebel operation. Even though NATO air strikes are the most visible show of support for the Rebels, there are also advisers working behind the scenes.

Former NATO Commander and U.S. Army General Wesley Clark explains to our Wolf Blitzer what those advisers have been doing.


WESLEY CLARK, FORMER NATO COMMANDER AND U.S. ARMY GENERAL: What I'm told is that there are some advisers in there from national forces, but these are not necessarily under NATO command and control. They may be special forces. They may be under the British Government. They may be under some other Government's control. But it's clear that they've done some work in helping the Libyan Rebels organize and plan their manouver.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN REPORTER: Because, I want to interrupt, General. These special forces, whether they're specifically under the command of NATO or directly under the command of various NATO allies, they haven't just been training these Rebels. They've actually helped them go in with precise logistics and intelligence and information to help in this assault. Is that your understanding?

CLARK: My understanding is they've been able to provide some information to them that clearly there's been some logistics brought in, not only or primarily by NATO member countries but by some Arab countries involved in this. And there's a broad coalition working on the ground that is -- it's not under NATO command and control, is my understanding. NATO's working the air campaign in accordance with the U.N. Security Council Resolution.


CHURCH: Now, as the end draws near for Moammar Gadhafi's regime, there are still pockets of resistance being reported in Tripoli as Rebels try to take full control of the city. Earlier, Former NATO Commander Wesley Clark also points out why the Rebels may have missed a golden opportunity.


CLARK: I think if Gadhafi still retains this district, I think he'll tighten it up. If there's anyone left in control in that district, they'll tighten it up, put snipers on rooftops. The snipers will have better fields of view. These Rebels who have been up all night, they're going to crash down and try to get a few hours of rest and reload and eat something. And so real time to have broken through Gadhafi's resistance is tonight, right now, before that line of defence hardens around Gadhafi's district.

The fact that Sara says she's not hearing the shooting going on indicates to me that the Rebels' attempts to clear the city are not very well organized, honestly.


CHURCH: That lack of organization stems from the fact that many of the Rebels are passionate about their cause but haven't been trained as professional soldiers. Earlier CNN's Sara Sidner described the opposition's efforts to take Tripoli. Take a listen.


SIDNER: What we know is a really surprising turn we bumped into someone who we talked to about five months ago when we were in Benghazi who had never held a gun before, who had lived in Canada for years as someone who had worked in I.T., never picked up a gun and had to start training because he wanted to come back to his country because he was upset about what was going on and he felt like the uprising, it was about time. So he came back here and we just met him in Tripoli. Now, he and his Tripoli brigade, as they're called, these are all guys from Tripoli, they know that city. That's one advantage they have. They really know the city well. But they had to start learning how to be a soldier from ex-military, from anyone who would teach them, in just about four to five months' time.

So what you're seeing is a group of people who may not have the kind of coordination you might expect, certainly from a professional army, they are definitely not a professional army. What saw we saw in the Square is a little bit of panic, a little bit of concern about how they are going to deal with any kind of tanks rolling in there. What we're seeing -- welded to the trucks. But these guys say they are not leaving, that they plan on keeping hold of Tripoli by any means necessary.


CHURCH: Now, as the Rebel noose tightens around Tripoli, Gadhafi's options are growing increasingly limited. One possibility for Gadhafi is exile, of course. A Rebel spokesman says Colonel Gadhafi has asked the Governments of neighboring countries for refuge for family members. But apparently not for himself.

Outside of Libya, Gadhafi has had a strong supporter in Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. However, the International Criminal Court wants Gadhafi to answer for crimes against humanity and Gadhafi seems determined to stay in Libya to the very end. He's insisted that's what he's going to do.

Now that Libya's Rebels have moved on the capital, questions about the nation's future Government are becoming more urgent. Our Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the Transitional National Council. That's just ahead on CNN.


CHURCH: Sporadic gunfire and explosions were heard coming from the direction of Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi's Compound in Tripoli Monday. A CNN Team in Tripoli reports the sounds of explosions were becoming more frequent and much of the Compound has already been destroyed by NATO air strikes.

Meanwhile, celebrations are breaking out, scenes like this one in Misrata were repeated in other Libyan cities as reports of Rebel victories reached their supporters.

Also events in Libya are having a big impact on the price of oil. Crude has fallen by nearly $3 a barrel in trading.

As the curtain begins to fall on Moammar Gadhafi's final act as Libya's leader, the first act awaits the Transitional National Council. The Rebel group internationally recognized as the political force to fill Gadhafi's power vacuum, our Jonathan Mann spoke with Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson about the people behind the Council.

NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is essentially the Rebel Leadership, essentially they are people that came to the Rebel side, former Government Ministers, the former Libyan Ambassador to the United Nations, now with the Transitional National Council. Some of them are former Government figures. Some of them like the General who was recently killed, the senior figure within the Transitional National Council, suddenly killed very recently over the past few weeks, was a loyalist to Gadhafi but had switched sides.

You have Libyan businessmen who have lived in exile in the United States and other countries, they've joined the Transitional National Council. They've been able to lobby the State Department. What the State Department has said is that it expects this Transitional National Council to be a transition to something else, to a Government that's more representative of the whole country. And when we look at the Transitional National Council right now and the international pressures on it, they do seem to have custody of Saif Gadhafi, one of Gadhafi's sons, he is wanted by the International Criminal Court. Will this prove the first test of how they are going to respond to international expectations and pressure to do the right thing by the country, not to grab and hold power by the small group that exists today but to build a consensus and a political aspiration across the whole country, not just those who have fought on the Rebel side.

CHURCH: And we will continue our coverage of the Libyan uprising in just a moment.

Right now let's take a look at some of other stories we are following. Syria's President Bashar Al Assad promised political reform in an interview on state television Sunday. But the deadly crackdown continues. Ivan Watson is following developments from Istanbul, Turkey.

IVAN WATSON, CNN REPORTER: This is the first time the Syrian President addressed his citizens in more than two months. He stands accused, according to recent United Nations human rights reports, of, quote, widespread systematic attacks against the civilian population which may amount to crimes against humanity. Instead, during this television appearance, he often sounded like a technicrat discussing the merits of constitutional reform.


BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SYRIAN PRESIDENT (via translator): We talked about a package of reforms that we want to put which I addressed in my speech at the University in Damascus and also there will be another transitional period when we will talk about the change of constitutions. So it was important to listen to the point of view of different -- and from the point of view of the Party and it is the Party that has shaped the past and present and future and -- and will do the future of Syria.


WATSON: Mr. Assad talked about the need for a national dialogue. He promised that elections could bring a new Parliament into Damascus by February. Some Syrian opposition activists I've talked to say he has made promises like this before, even while sending the Syrian Military to attack unarmed protestors in many cities and towns in Syria. One opposition activist called Mr. Assad delusional.


YASER TABBARA, SYRIAN-AMERICAN OPPOSITION ACTIVIST: What I heard, Ivan, was a delusional man in absolute denial of reality on the ground. This speech did not acknowledge, as you said, anything about the massacres that have been committed over the past five months, what has been taking place in Syria is truly crimes against humanity.


WATSON: During his television interview, the Syrian President slammed western Governments like the U.S., France and Britain who have called on him to step down. He said this was imperialism and tried to deflect criticism of his own Government's human rights abuses by drawing attention to the ongoing conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. But he faces a crisis of credibility.

Just days ago he promised the U.N. Secretary-General that the military operations had come to an end in Syria. Instead, a prominent human rights organization in Syria claims that more than 20 Syrian citizens have been killed alone in the last 24 hours in the province of Hose.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Istanbul.

CHURCH: Rockets fell on Southern Israel Sunday as tension with Gaza, which is high at the best of times, continues to grow. Twenty incoming rockets had been reported by Israeli officials by noon Sunday. Israel defense forces say they have arrested dozens of men in Gaza.

Meantime, outrage is simmering in Egypt. Cairo is promising to recall its Ambassador to Tel-Aviv. Five Egyptian security personnel died Thursday in the incident that set off the latest round of tension between Gaza and Israel.

We continue to monitor the breaking news out of Libya. We will have the latest on reports of fighting around the Gadhafi Compound in Tripoli as well as your international forecast.



CHURCH: Let's update you now on events in Libya. Sporadic gunfire and explosions have been heard coming from the direction of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's Bab Al Azizia's Compound. A Reuters News Agency reports that tanks were seen leaving the Compound, citing a Rebel's source to Al Gazeira television.

A CNN Crew in Tripoli says much of the Compound has been destroyed by NATO air strikes over the past few months. It appears three of Colonel Gadhafi's sons are under arrest. Opposition leaders and other sources say Rebel forces have captured the sons Sadi and Saif and Al Jazeera is reporting the oldest son in the family, Mohammed Gadhafi has also been arrested.

You can also follow developments in Libya on our web site has the scene from Tripoli and around the nation and we will also have a time line of how events have unfolded and what lies ahead. So just go to and have a look at that.

We will continue to bring you the latest of those developments from Libya. But we have another story that's developing as we speak, a storm which looks to be the season's first Atlantic Ocean hurricane.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is at the World Weather Center on top of that. What can you tell us?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Rosemary, the storm system is approaching Puerto Rico right now and has brought in heavy rainfall toward portions of the U.S. Virgin islands and British Virgin Islands in the past several hours. You take a look, the winds right now sitting at 113 kilometers per hour, about 70 or so miles per hour so it is just shy of becoming a hurricane.

But folks around San Juan, Puerto Rico, they're feeling the wrath of this storm system. Again, across this part of the world, all of the official observation points we know strong winds are being reported, heavy rainfall. We have hurricane warnings and hurricane watches up and down the corridor over the next 24 to 48 hours.

Take a look at this, the rainfall totals going to be impressive, 25 centimeters across northern portions of the Dominican Republic region and working your way toward Haiti in the northern tip also getting up to 10 centimeters of rain and the max amount here, about 10 inches of rainfall in the next couple of days. This certainly is going to cause a lot of problems across that part of the world.

And then the question lies, what is going to happen beyond this point? Well, storm system works its way toward the Bahama's by the middle portion of this coming week and then by Thursday into Friday, folks around South Florida, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Jupiter, this area, going to be watching this carefully because this will be Hurricane Irene at that point and it looks like it will be packing winds at least to over 80 to 90 miles per hour, perhaps stronger stronger depending on how it interacts with coastal regions of the islands of the Caribbean.

Quickly I want to show you some mild temperatures across the Pacific Northwest, the warmest day of the year, cooled off to 18 right now in Seattle, 18 celsius, about 68 or so degrees fahrenheit, but the temperature's earlier this afternoon across the northwest, take a look, the warmest day of the year, record high in Portland, Oregon, 36 celsius, nearly 100 degrees fahrenheit, Salem, Oregon, another day at 36 and the warmest day of the year across Seattle, temperatures knocking right on 90 degrees this afternoon out there.

And Forks, Washington, may be familiar with that name, the movie "Twilight" based out of that town, a coastal community, temperatures getting up to nearly 30 degrees this afternoon. A cooling trend is on tap for our friends across the Pacific Northwest, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Good to hear. Thanks Pedram.

Our coverage of the Libyan uprising continues with our John Vause. Coming up, we'll go back to the scenes on the streets of Tripoli as the Rebels entered the capital.

Stay with CNN, the world's news leader.