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Libyan Rebels Set On Ousting Gadhafi


Joining us now as she is traveling in the rebel-held east part of Libya is NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson. Good morning, Soraya.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: Good morning, David.

GREENE: Tell us what you can about what's playing out there.

NELSON: Well, it's a little quieter this morning. It seems like at this stage, what we're told and the latest thing I had heard is that the rebels are in control of pretty much all of Tripoli, or so they claim.

The one place they seem to be steering clear from, or they're a little hesitant to go into, is the area in and around the Bab al-Azizia compound, which, of course, is Gadhafi's compound. But the concern is, of course, the pro-Gadhafi forces that are still in town.

I mean, if there's anything in this country, there are a lot of guns and there are a lot of people, and where all the loyalties lie is certainly not clear.

GREENE: Soraya, I know one thing that rebel leaders are telling people in eastern Libya, people who support the opposition is as this goes forward, don't take revenge against government supporters. So, you know, the world is watching what is playing out. What else are you hearing from the rebel leadership?

NELSON: Well, there's certainly much more circumspect about their successes in the last 24 hours. While the rebel leaders were actually leading, I guess, the charge, if you will - certainly, our correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro has been with them.

They're much more positive about the goals that they've achieved, whereas nearby here in Benghazi, they were cautioning people to be a little more patient, that it could take a week for Tripoli to really be under rebel control. You know, they said this is a city of two million people. One senior NTC, National Transitional Council person that we spoke to said that, you know, expect surprises.

This has been the city of two million people, and it's just not predictable. Again, you don't know where the pro-Gadhafi forces have sort of melted away to. So they're being a little more circumspect. And certainly, we also have parts of the country here that are still under Gadhafi control.

I mean, it's important to note that while celebrations are going on all over in Tripoli, as well as in Benghazi - which, of course, is the capital of the rebel-held territory - people from Benghazi can't go to Tripoli to see what's going on, because the country is cut off. I mean, they're cut off.

GREENE: Well, are they getting the news from Tripoli? I mean, are people in the east learning about the events in Tripoli? And how are they reacting to it?

NELSON: Well, certainly, they're watching it on television like so many people are around the world, and this place was one of mass celebration last night. In fact, it delayed our trip into Libya because we - the roads were so jammed with people all the way to the Egyptian border celebrating, honking their horns in cars, shooting in the air, that the driver couldn't even get to the border.

It's much quieter this morning. It is Ramadan, and so people tend to sleep a lot during the morning and afternoon hours before iftar, before they break the fast. But it's widely expected the celebrating will continue.

GREENE: Well, Soraya, I know we'll be talking to you a lot more as these events unfold. That's the voice of NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, who is traveling through the rebel-held territory in eastern Libya.

Soraya, thank you.

NELSON: You're welcome, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.
Special correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and read at NPR.org. From 2012 until 2018 Nelson was NPR's bureau chief in Berlin. She won the ICFJ 2017 Excellence in International Reporting Award for her work in Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.