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Rebels Try To Wrest Control Of Zawiya From Gadhafi Troops

Originally published on August 18, 2011 8:30 am
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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, Host:

Good morning.

LOURDES GARCIA: Good morning.

GREENE: Lulu, can you take us through where we stand now in the battlefield of Libya?

GARCIA: But what they aren't doing is gaining territory anymore. And that's an important distinction. It shows that barring some massive game-changer the fight is going in one direction and one direction only, and that's in the rebel's way.

GREENE: And if the fight does reach Tripoli, I mean, do you have any sense of what the situation is in the capital at this point? I mean, we've heard for so long that there are, you know, there is an opposition to Gadhafi. It's sort of been underground, hasn't been able to rise up yet. But what are you hearing at this point?

GARCIA: So the situation is deteriorating. And that, of course, is going to play into the hands of the rebels.

GREENE: And, of course, one of the great unanswered questions of this battle for Libya, do we have any idea where Gadhafi is at this point?

GARCIA: The last that we heard of him was an audio tape that was purportedly released by him four days ago. But since then we really haven't heard anything from Gadhafi. And we don't know where he is. It's very unclear, at the moment, how much control Gadhafi actually has.

GREENE: And briefly, you've done a lot of reporting, Lulu, on the state of disarray sometimes within the rebels. What's you're read at this point? I mean, were they to take Tripoli and topple the government at some point in the coming days or weeks, are they in a position to run a country?

GARCIA: Right now, though, that seems somehow a lot closer and a more pressing question than it was before, simply because of the military advances the rebels have made. They did release a 14-page constitutional declaration outlining what their plans were for after the transition. But it still remains to be seen if they really can bring this country together after such a brutal and divisive civil war.

GREENE: Thanks for joining us.

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