Last Updated: Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:25 am (KSA) 07:25 am (GMT)

Qaddafi gov’t military surrenders to rebel council amid euphoric advance on Tripoli

When the Qaddafi military unit dropped its arms, it essentially opened the way for the rebels to enter the city with little resistance. (Photo by REUTERS)
When the Qaddafi military unit dropped its arms, it essentially opened the way for the rebels to enter the city with little resistance. (Photo by REUTERS)

The military unit in charge of protecting embattled leader Muammar Qaddafi and the Libyan capital Tripoli has surrendered to rebel council.

Mahmoud Shammam, the rebel minister of information, told the Associated Press on Sunday that the unit commander "has joined the revolution and ordered his soldiers to drop their weapons."

When the unit dropped its arms, it essentially opened the way for the rebels to enter the city with little resistance.

On Sunday night, Colonel Qaddafi’s eldest son Mohammad surrendered to the rebel council, while his second son Saif Al Islam was captured by rebels. The International Criminal Court, which had issued arrest warrants for the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, his son and his spy chief in June, said it had confirmed that Saif Al Islam had been detained.

Rebel fighters said that all of Tripoli was under their control late on Sunday, except for Colonel Qaddafi’s stronghold of Bab Al Aziziyah.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called on Sunday for a peaceful and immediate transition of power in Libya, saying the alliance was ready to work with rebels fighting Muammar Qaddafi to achieve that, Reuters reported.

"NATO is ready to work with the Libyan people and with the (rebel) Transitional National Council, which holds a great responsibility," Rasmussen said in a statement.

"They must make sure that the transition is smooth and inclusive, that the country stays united, and that the future is founded on reconciliation and respect for human rights." He added NATO would continue to monitor military facilities in Libya to ensure civilians were not under threat.

In a seemingly desperate plea to “save Tripoli,” Col. Qaddafi earlier spoke in an audio broadcast on state television vowing to never relinquish power.

He said he would not surrender and boasted he would "emerge victorious" in the battle for Tripoli.

"We will not, we will not abandon Tripoli to the occupants and their agents. I am with you in this battle," he said in the audio message.

"We do not surrender and, by God's grace, we will emerge victorious."

He called on his supporters to "march on Tajura in tens of thousands to purge the officials of the colonizers," in a reference to the NATO-backed rebels.

Earlier, he had earlier aired a message urging supporters to "march by the millions" to liberate cities held by "traitors and rats."

And in a third audio message broadcast on state television late at night, he said the people should "go out now to purge the capital," adding that there was "no place for the agents of colonialism in Tripoli and Libya."

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