Aug.21 - Heavy fighting unleashes a flurry of claim and counter claim by rebels and supporters of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Paul Chapman reports.
PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi told viewers of state television his view of fighting in Tripoli during a live phone call to the station. He dismissed opposition protesters and rebels as 'rats' after an unprecedented wave of rebel activity shook Tripoli on Saturday night. SOUNDBITE: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi saying (Arabic): "They clap for the planes of the cross that bomb our cities and kill our children. Where are you going? To hellfire. What did you leave, you traitors, you dirty people who made mosques filthy? You go into mosques and make calls (to fight), you sons of dogs. You go into mosques and unpurify them, you filthy people." While the fighting in Tripoli has been described by some as "Zero Hour" for Gaddafi his son Saif al-Islam in a separate tv broadcast ruled out surrender. Gaddafi's government is rejecting claims by the rebels that they control large areas of the capital but rebel head of political affairs, Fathi Baja, said on Saturday the fight was progressing. SOUNDBITE: National Transitional Council head of political affairs, Professor Fathi Baji, saying (Arabic): "There is certain information that tells us forces loyal to Gaddafi withdrew and left their weapons behind in areas outside Tripoli. And I think everything is in order in Tripoli. Rebels are approaching al-Sareem street near the Bab al-Azizia complex. Gaddafi may be coerced to flee if he managed to co-ordinate it with some countries but I hope to arrest him to be tried with his sons and assistants in Libya." In a further twist over the weekend reports emerged that Libya's oil chief, seen here in file footage in June, had failed to return from a trip abroad. A Tunisian official source said Omran Abukraa had cut short his visit to Italy and was now in Tunisia. If confirmed Abukraa's defection would be the third in a week. A senior security official flew to Cairo with his family last Monday. Gaddafi's former deputy Adbel Salam Jalloud defected to the rebel side on Friday and has since urged Libyans to help end his 42-year-rule. Paul Chapman, Reuters