There are a multitude of aspects to what’s going on right now in Libya, Tripoli in particular things I don’t know well enough – but one aspect is emerging and grabs my attention – a side-effect of the near-total liberation of the capitol is literally blood flowing in the streets. At least one journalist has captured some of the horror of it as armed butchers from one side or another massacre fighters and civilians alike in growing numbers all across the city. (thanks to Brian Souter for tipping me off to this story)
We seem to have little video of this just yet – can anyone recommend anything they see? Is youtube allowing them to be seen or not? Etc. Eventually, there may come some better understanding of what’s happening, but for now, what I run across or have dropped to me on the Tripoli massacres of late August, probably September, and fall of 2011.
So far I have one rather stark, and detailed, article by Hadeel al-Shalchi, AP, Aug 26:
Fight ‘the rats,’ Gadhafi urges as rebels push on
(Associated Press writer Rami al-Shaheibi in Benghazi and Donna Bryson in Cairo contributed to this report.)
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — The streets where rebel fighters bombarded snipers loyal to Moammar Gadhafi were strewn with bullet-ridden corpses from both sides Thursday. Streams of blood ran down the gutters and turned sewers red.
By sundown the rebels appeared to have won the battle for the Abu Salim neighborhood, next to Gadhafi’s captured Tripoli compound […] Outside his Bab al-Aziziya compound, which rebels captured Tuesday, there was another grim scene — one that suggested mass, execution-style killings of civilians.
About two dozen bodies — some with their hands bound by plastic ties and with bullet wounds to the head — lay scattered on grassy lots in an area where Gadhafi sympathizers had camped out for months.
The identities of the dead were unclear, but they were in all likelihood activists who had set up an impromptu tent city in solidarity with Gadhafi in defiance of the NATO bombing campaign.
Five or six bodies were in a tent erected on a roundabout that had served as a field clinic. One of the dead still had an IV in his arm, and another body was completely charred, its legs missing. The body of a doctor, in his green hospital gown, was found dumped in the canal.
There is a photo that runs with the story showing some of these victims laid across the grass. Mr. writes that “it was unclear who was responsible for the killings.” It used to be clear the exterminator of “rats,” col. Gaddafi was responsible for all such things. But after the rebels have been caught slaughtering their captives time and again, with greater frequency in this final push, the credibility isn’t there. Even in this extreme situation, where Gaddafi is again calling for a slaughter of rats, it doesn’t look good when hands-bound people in civilian clothes, and apparently Gaddafi supporters – wind up strewn across neighborhoods the rebels just took.
The “Freedom Fighters” will say the regime planted their own victims – those who “wanted to defect” – in such spots to frame the rebels. That it would work so well is not to the rebels’ credit. The story also mentions that “on Thursday they announced that their leadership was moving into the capital.” Wow, Mr. Abdel Jalil will be so giddy. It was just days ago that he predicted the fight for Tripoli would be “a bloodbath,” one he hoped to celebrate, at the scene of the crime, by the feast of Eid (August 30 this year).
More snapshots of freedom:
The [Abu Salim] neighborhood, where battles have raged for days, is thought to be the last major stronghold of regime brigades in Tripoli, though there has also been ongoing fighting around the airport. Many of the pro-Gadhafi forces in Abu Salim are believed to have fled his Bab al-Aziziya compound after rebels captured it Tuesday, and the neighborhood is among the few places in Tripoli where pro-Gadhafi graffiti has not been painted over.
Rebel fighters moved methodically through the neighborhood — some on foot, wearing shorts and carrying machine guns, and others in long lines of pickup trucks with weapons mounted on the back. They fired anti-aircraft guns and rockets, trying to clear buildings of Gadhafi defenders.
Some of the bodies in the streets were on fire. The rebels covered their own with blankets and left the bullet-riddled bodies of their foes exposed.
Civilians were in some of the buildings and caught up in the crossfire.
A mother ran out of one the buildings under siege, screaming: “My son needs first aid.” Behind her, the building’s glass windows were shattered and black smoked poured out of a burning apartment.
In Abu Salim, the hours-long barrage ended at sunset. Rebel fighters went door to door through largely deserted apartment buildings, occasionally dragging out suspected regime loyalists.
Some were dark-skinned men wearing cut-off camouflage and T-shirts. Their hands were tied behind their backs before they were driven away. The rebels have long claimed Gadhafi had been hiring mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa to bolster his army.
And finally, “Rebels say one of their key targets now is Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte,” where stiff tribal resistance – that is, loyalist civilians, just as armed and civilian as the rebels but without an air force, are expected to put up a stiff fight. “I am appealing to the areas not yet liberated to join the revolution,” an official told reporters in Benghazi. “There is no excuse for them not to join.”
And, judging by the way things have gone in Misrata, Tawergha, Brega, Qawalish, Qawalish again, most of the Nafusah, az Zawiyah, Sabratha, etc., and now finally Tripoli, there’s plenty at risk, as well as no damn excuse, for those people of Libya to refuse to surrender to this popular revolution
The good news – NATO’s campaign to “avert a bloodbath in Benghazi” is finally bearing fruit.