Last stand of Gaddafi as Libya falls to the rebels

By Ian Dunt

Colonel Gaddafi seemed on the brink of defeat today after an extraordinary night in Libya saw rebel forces take control of much of the capital.

A convoy of rebel fighters rolled into Tripoli last night, prompting cheering crowds and a celebratory atmosphere in Green Square, which has been renamed Martyrs' Square.

Reuters is reporting that state TV went offline around 14:50 BST.

"This has not been our revolution but we can be proud that we played our part," David Cameron said outside Downing Street, after returning early from his holiday.

"There will be many difficult days between today and a better future. Britain has played its part. We can be proud of that role."

Military strategists are urging caution in the face of rapidly escalating expectations, with warnings that  Gaddafi still has thousands of armed supporters in the capital.

"I warn you, there are still pockets of resistance in and around Tripoli," said Mustafa Mohammed Abdul Jalil, chairman of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC).

Two of Colonel Gaddafi's sons, London-educated Saif al-Islam and the man groomed to succeed the Libyan leader, Muhammad, have also been captured.

Muhamnmad was speaking on the phone to al-Jazeera when he shouted that rebel were approaching his home. Gunfire could then be heard before the line went dead.

The International Criminal Court (ICC), which has indicted Saif al-Islam for torturing and killing civilians, said it had been informed of his arrest.

“Clearly we’re into the last stage of the regime – the writing is on the wall,” Oana Lungescu, the chief Nato spokesman.

In a radio address Gaddafi struck a bitter and unapologetic tone.

"We can’t go back," he said

"Until the last drop of our blood, we will be here defending the city.

"We are not going to surrender to the traitors. I am here in this battle with you. As I promised you I’m here, I will never give up, and we will achieve victory."

An NTC press conference this afternoon in Benghazi saw the rebels admit they had no idea where the Libyan dictator was.

NTC leader Mahmoud Jibri said the new constitution would be based on freedom, equality, justice, democracy and transparency in a moderate Islamic framework.

Mr Jibri stressed that he could not say the rebels had full control of the capital.

Nato jets bombed government positions in Tripoli over the weekend, specifically around the Gaddafi leadership compound at Bab al-Aziziya

Meanwhile, RAF Tornados hit a building in south-west Tripoli used by the regime as an intelligence centre.

Rebels said they had secured the surrender of the country's main military airbase, Mitiga, along with Gaddafi's presidential guard.

A daring seaborne landing by rebel forces from Misurata also helped bolster rebel strength ahead of entering the capital, but some analysts suggest the surprisingly rapid collapse of Tripoli came because of anti-Gaddafi inhabitants in its eastern districts.

In Washington, President Obama said: "Tonight, the momentum against the Gaddafi regime has reached a tipping point. Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant."