TRIPOLI, Libya — Libyan rebels claimed to be in control of most of the Libyan capital on Monday after their lightning advance on Tripoli heralded the fall of Moammar Gadhafi’s nearly 42-year regime, but scattered battles erupted and the mercurial leader’s whereabouts remained unknown.
The international community called on Gadhafi to step down and moved ahead with post-war planning as euphoric residents celebrated in the Green Square, the symbolic heart of the Gadhafi regime, but colleagues warned he wouldn’t go easily.
NATO promised to continue airstrikes until all pro-Gadhafi forces surrender or return to barracks.
The relative ease with which the rebels captured Tripoli in an hours-long blitz backed by NATO airstrikes showcased the evolution of the opposition fighters who first rose against the regime six months ago, swiftly capturing the eastern part of the vast North African nation but failing to muster enough punch to advance westward toward Tripoli even with the help of months of NATO airstrikes.
For months, the rebels were judged to be big on zeal but short on organization and discipline, but their stunning success in Tripoli showed a high level of planning, coordination and discipline.
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