|Opposition protests outside the White House, Washington, D.C. on 19 February|
This post gives a timeline for the 2011 Libyan uprising which began on 15 February 2011 as a civil protest and has since become a widespread uprising. As of 25 February 2011, most of Libya is reported to be under the control of the Libyan opposition and not the government of Muammar al-Gaddafi. Gaddafi remains in control of Tripoli, Sirt,Ghadames and Sabha.
In the evening approximately 200 people began demonstrating in front of the police headquarters in Benghazi following the arrest of human rights activist Fathi Terbil.They were joined by others later who totaled between 500 to 600 protesters. The protest was broken up violently by police, causing as many as 40 injuries among the protesters.
In Al Bayda and Az Zintan, hundreds of protesters called for "the end of the regime" and set fire to police and security buildings. In Az Zintan, the protesters set up tents in the town centre.
Protests continued in Benghazi, where hundreds of protesters gathered at Maydan al-Shajara before security services tried to disperse the crowd using water cannons. After clashes between the two groups, the police left. Al-Yawm estimated a crowd of more than 1,500 people attempting to storm the internal security building in Al Bayda. The protesters set fire to two cars and burnt down the headquarters of the traffic police. In the ensuing clashes with police six people died and three were injured. In Al-Quba, more than 400 protesters over a wide range of ages set fire to the police station. Protests were also reported in Darnah and Az Zintan, though there were no injuries.
Pro-government rallies of many dozens of loyalists and Tripolitanian people also took place.
Reportedly as a response to the demonstrations, Libya released 110 members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group from prison on 16 February.
17 February – Day of Revolt
A "Day of Revolt" was called by Libyans. The National Conference for the Libyan Opposition stated that "all" groups opposed to Gaddafi both within Libya and in exile planned the protests in memory of the demonstrations in Benghazi on 17 February 2006 that were initially against the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons, but which turned into protests against Gaddafi.
In Benghazi, the government released 30 prisoners from jail, armed them and paid them to fight against protesters. Several demonstrators were killed by snipers and gunfire from helicopters. The London Evening Standard and Al Jazeera English estimated that 14 people were killed. The latter reported that an eyewitness saw six unarmed protesters shot dead by police. The BBC reported that "at least 15 people" were killed in the clashes. Furthermore, .50 calibre sniper ammunition was used against protesters.
Libya al-Youm reported that four people were shot dead by sniper fire in Al Bayda. and a Libyan human-rights group reported 13 people had been killed. In Ajdabiya and Darnah at least ten and six protesters were killed by police, respectively. Protests also took place across Tripoli and in Zentan, where a number of government buildings including a police station were set on fire.
Thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in front of the Benghazi courthouse. According to the BBC, a "doctor at Benghazi's Jalla hospital" told them that he had "seen 15 bodies – all dead from gunshot wounds" by the time he left the hospital "in the early hours of the day." Police and army personnel later withdrew from the city after being overwhelmed by protesters. Some army personnel also joined the protesters; they then seized the local radio station. In Al Bayda, unconfirmed reports indicated that the local police force and riot control units joined the protesters. Two police officers who were accused of shooting protesters were hanged by protesters.
The Libyan government began hiring African mercenaries, mostly from Chad, to support its own forces. It was reported that “They were paid for 5,000 (Dinars) and the latest model cars just to get rid of demonstrators,” according to inside sources. Twelve people were killed on the Giuliana Bridge in Benghazi when mercenaries opened fire. 50 mercenaries were killed after protesters captured them, locked them up in a prison, and then burned it down.
The Libyan newspaper Quryna reported that about 1,000 non-political prisoners had escaped from a Benghazi prison. A security source told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that four inmates were shot dead during a breakout attempt in Tripoli.
The government of Libya initially restricted access to the Internet in the country for several hours, but later imposed a more comprehensive and sustained blackout.
Opposition protests outside the White House, Washington, D.C. on 19 February
Widespread protests continued for another day. Demonstrators in Benghazi had reportedly taken control of Benina International Airport early in the day.
The opposition warned civilians of a massacre by the government unless the international community applied pressure. Witnesses in Libya have reported helicopters firing into crowds of anti-government protesters. The army withdrew from the city of Al Bayda. Human Rights Watch and the Libyan newspaper Quryna said thousands of demonstrators had poured out onto the streets in Benghazi and other eastern cities on 18 February, a day after the clashes in which 49 people were killed, and that some protests were still continuing. Artillery, helicopter gunships and antiaircraft missile launchers were used to kill protesters. Security forces reportedly opened fire at a funeral in the eastern, coastal city of on Saturday, killing at least 15 people and injuring scores more. The funeral was to honour protesters killed by security forces during the on-going protests.
A doctor from Benghazi's Al-Jalah Hospital said staff there had received 15 bodies and were treating numerous people following the shootings at the funeral. "This is not a well-equipped hospital and these injuries come in waves," he said. "All are very serious injuries, involving the head, the chest and the abdomen. They are bullet injuries from high-velocity rifles." The hospital counted 44 deaths in three days and was struggling to treat the wounded.[ The residents of Benghazi told Al Jazeera that at least 200 people had died while the New York based Human Rights Watch put the countrywide death toll at a "conservative" 104 on the 19th. A bank was looted in Benghazi.
Anti-Gaddafi protests were also reported in Misurata, where thousands of people took part in peaceful protests. They were demonstrating against state brutality and censorship, rather than calling for a change in government.
Both pro- and anti-government protests broke out in other major cities, including Al Bayda, Derna, Tobruk and Misurata.
Several hundred government supporters and party activists took to the streets in large numbers, and security forces prevented large demonstrations against Gaddafi's 42-year-old regime. A bank was wrecked and looted in Tripoli.
According to figures compiled by the AFP news agency from local sources, at least 41 people had been killed since demonstrations first started on 15 February. The toll excludes two policemen, newspapers said, who had been hung in Al Bayda on 18 February. The New York-based Human Rights Watch, citing phone interviews with hospital staff and eye witnesses, said that security forces had killed more than 80 anti-Gaddafi protesters in eastern Libya. Opposition groups later put the number of dead at over 120. The residents of Benghazi told Al Jazeera that at least 200 people had died while Human Rights Watch put the countrywide death toll at a "conservative" 104. The security forces (troops and police) of Benghazi were in their barracks while the city was in a state of civil mutiny.
Mohamed Abdulmalek, the chairman of the human rights group Libya Watch, commented that the delay of protests in the west was due to the heavy presence of Libya’s State Security Forces and secret police were out there and "not because the people did not want to go out".
The UK's former Foreign Secretary and Chairman of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that the protests across the Middle East were resembling the anti-Communist/pro-democracy events in Eastern Europe of 1989. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was "deeply concerned" by the "unacceptable violence" used against protesters.
Protests escalated with residents also reporting small protests beginning in Tripoli, indicating a widening of the unrest from the eastern half of the country into Gaddafi's center of power. Hospitals confirmed that they have run out of supplies and doctors estimate the death-toll in Benghazi to be between 200–300. After the people of Benghazi beat back the police and captured several key military barracks local military brigades joined the protesters. By this time, protesters in Benghazi numbered in the tens of thousands, possibly in the hundreds of thousands. Reports also emerged of pro-Gaddafi militia by the Elfedeel Bu Omar compound "being butchered by angry mobs." Al Jazeera said that protesters were in control of the city as loyalist security forces fled to the airport. Further military units are reported to have defected in order to protect protesters. Several senior Muslim clerics and tribal leaders from around Libya called for an end to the bloodshed by the regime, and for the government to step down. A 'spontaneous' protest occurred in Tripoli by night where the protesters quickly overran police. One tribal leader threatened to block oil exports.
The Tuareg tribe in the south was said to have answered a call by the larger Warfalla tribe to take part in the protests. The Tuareg towns of Ghat and Ubary were also locations for violence, with members of the tribe reportedly attacking government buildings and police stations.
|Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam addressing Libya on state TV, 20 February|
Gaddafi's second son Saif al-Islam appeared on state television and blamed the violence and protests, including "acts of sabotage and burning," on "foreign agents," and in particular, Israel, echoing the attempts made by other Arab leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen to dismiss and downplay the unrest. He said that the unrest "may cause civil war". He also said that Libya was different from its neighbours. He ended by warning, "We will fight to the last man and woman and bullet. We will not lose Libya. We will not let Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and BBC trick us." There were also unconfirmed rumours that Muammar al-Gaddafi had left for Brazil or Venezuela leaving Saif El Islam in charge. State-run Al-Shababiya was reportedly attacked in the evening following Saif El Islam's address.
The United States Department of State, through the American Embassy, issued a travel warning to US citizens due to the continuing unrest in the country. The European Union called on the government to refrain from using force and to answer the protesters' grievances.
In the night, clashes escalated in Tripoli, with protesters trying to seize control of Green Square. Witnesses reported snipers firing into the crowds, and Gaddafi supporters driving around the square shooting and running demonstrators over. Protesters burned a police and security forces' station and the General People's Congress' building.
Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam called for a "general assembly" to discuss grievances.
|Representatives of the Libyan Community in Ireland demonstrating in Dublin against Gaddafi on 21 February|
In Benghazi, protesters took control of the streets, and looted weapons from the main security headquarters. Demonstrators also lowered the Libyan flag from above the main courthouse and replaced it with the flag of the country's old monarchy. Libyan Air Force warplanes and attack helicopters launched airstrikes on protesters, reportedly targeting a funeral procession and a group of protesters trying to reach a military base. Two senior mutineering air force pilots flew their Dassault Mirage F1 fighter jets to Malta and requested political asylum after defying orders to bomb protesters. Two civilian helicopters also landed in Malta, carrying seven passengers who claimed to be French oil workers.
Reports indicated the People's Hall in Tripoli, which serves as the meeting place for the General People's Congress, had been set on fire. There were also reports that the state television building had been smashed up by protesters and that at least one Tripoli police station was burned down. Navy warships were reported to have begun bombardment of residential areas causing an unknown number of casualties. Banks and other government buildings were looted throughout the day. Demonstrators clashed with security forces, and heavy gunfire was heard throughout the city. At least 61 people were killed.
Some people alleged that they were offered money to turn up for pro-Gaddafi rallies outside Libya. Within Libya, state-run television showed pro-Gaddafi rallies, though the international media doubted the authenticity of these protests as possibly having been staged.
The Libyan Navy reportedly shelled demonstrators from the sea, and Gaddafi allegedly issued execution orders to soldiers refusing to fire on protesters.
There were reports that Gaddafi had fled Tripoli after the People's Hall and the state television headquarters were overrun and burned by protesters – according to rumours he had fled either to the town of Sebha or to Venezuela. British Foreign Secretary William Hague also said that he had received information that Muammar al-Gaddafi had left Libya and was travelling to Venezuela. Venezuelan government officials denied reports that Muammar Gaddafi had left Libya and was on a plane bound for Caracas. It was later reported that one of Col. Gaddafi's sons arrived on the island of Margarita around the time that Hague made his allegation.
BBC News reported that the Libyan Army was "fighting forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi, who appears to be struggling to hold on to power." A group of army officers also called upon their fellow soldiers to "join the people" and remove Gaddafi from office. Islamic leaders and clerics in Libya urged all Muslims to rebel against Gaddafi. The ambassador to Poland stated that the flood of defections by elements of the Army and Air Force, as well as by government ministers, cannot be stopped and that Gaddafi days in power are numbered. He also said that firing on the protesters was only increasing the unrest and that it is the sign of a dying regime. Libyan ambassadors to Indonesia, Bangladesh, the EU, and India also resigned in protest of the actions of the Gaddafi regime.
|Gaddafi making a 20-second statement on state television|
Gaddafi made a brief appearance on state television in which he said he had been speaking to the youth in Green Square. He also said: "I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Do not believe the (news)channels belonging to stray dogs." The location and time of Gaddafi's statement could not be independently verified by news organizations outside of Libya. In the video, Gaddafi holds an umbrella, and the apparent rainfall is consistent with the meteorological situation in Tripoli earlier that day. Gunfire was reportedly heard throughout the night of 21–22 February. Loyalist soldiers were reported to have continued some bombarding to keep defecting soldiers away from the protests. Fighter jets were reported to have targeted army ammunition depots in order to prevent troops from joining the protesters.
A Libyan naval vessel was reportedly sighted off the coast of Malta. According to Al Jazeera, five Italian fighter jets overflew the ship, and the Italian Navy began conducting surveillance. The ship reportedly had its flag lowered, suggesting that the crew may want to defect. The Armed Forces of Malta have several times denied reports in the international media that it was monitoring any such vessels approaching Maltese shores.
The former ambassador to India, Ali al-Essawi, stated that he feared returning to Libya. He also confirmed that fighter jets were used to bomb civilians, and that foreign mercenaries, who seemed to have come from other African countries, were "massacring" people.
The former ambassador to Bangladesh, A. H. Elimam, was also reported to have "disappeared" after 9:00 Bangladesh time. Al Jazeera said the last conversation with him noted "a sense of panic" in his voice and that his phone had been switched off. He indicated a feeling of being threatened by an intelligence officer at the embassy, who was from the same village as Gaddafi. The Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry and other diplomats in that country could not confirm his whereabouts.
A doctor in Tripoli told Asharq Al-Awsat that mercenaries broke into his hospital and killed injured people.
|Gaddafi during his hour-long speech, also on state television|
The former British Foreign Minister David Owen said that a "military intervention" via a no-fly zone was immediately necessary. The Austrian Army reported that the airspace around Tripoli had been closed, but later retracted the statement. The Austrian Defense Ministry spokesman Michael Huber said: "One of our sources said that initially that it (airspace) was closed, but then another later confirmed otherwise. Our plane was able to leave."
Eyewitness report that thousands of African mercenaries were flown into Tripoli to put down the uprising.One insider source reportedly says that Gaddafi now can only rely on his own clan and 5,000 men, out of 45,000, and knows he can't retake Libya. According to this source, he apparently plans to force a Pyrrhic victory on his opponents; to whittle down their numbers with many skirmishes, harm the economy by sabotaging oil reserves, and in every sense damaging infrastructure to the best of his ability, stating "I have the money and arms to fight for a long time". Oil infrastructures may be sabotaged to cut economic supply to rebel clans, while fights may lead thousands to flee Libya to pressure them. Thus, all may prefer to accept the Gaddafi's status quo.
“ I am a Bedouin warrior who brought glory to Libyans ”
—Muammar Gaddafi during his speech on 22 February
In a second speech within 24 hours, believed by commentators to be made from his family compound in the Bab al-Azizia military barracks in southern Tripoli, Gaddafi blamed foreign powers and hallucinogens being forced on the protesters for the unrest. He rejected stepping down, saying he had no official position from which he could step down, and stated that he would "die as martyr". The scenery of the speech indicated that Gaddafi was in Libya.
In his hour-long speech he blamed the uprising on "Islamists", and then warned that an "Islamic emirate" has already been set up in Al Bayda and Derna, where he threatened the use of extreme force and genocide-like tactics, to stop the Islamfication of Libya. Gaddafi vowed to fight on and die a "martyr" on Libyan soil. He then called on his supporters to take back the streets on the 23rd from protesters and tribal rebels, who were demanding that he step down. He also went on to state that he had "not yet ordered the use of force", and warned viewers that "when I do, everything will burn".
Gaddafi vowed to fight his opponents "until the last drop of his blood had been spilt" rather than step down, describing anti-regime protesters as "rats" and "mercenaries" working for foreign nations and corporate agendas. Gaddafi said the rioting urban youths that were opposed to his rule were manipulated by others who gave them drugs and who were trying to turn the country into an Islamic state.(In earlier speeches he blamed 'Zionists' for the riots.)Furthermore he threatened a Tiananmen-Style crackdown. The speech has been since been parodied on YouTube.
Abdul Fatah Younis who holds the position of top general and interior minister, escaped from house arrest, resigned, and called for the army and police to fight Gaddafi and his regime. Until his resignation, General Younis was regarded as the second most powerful man in Libya.
Human Rights Watch said that at least 233 people had been killed up to 22 February.
By the nighttime, the Arab League suspended the Libyan delegation from meetings until the Libyan people were safe.
A young Libyan carrying King Idris's photo during a protest in Benghazi on February 23
British foreign minister William Hague said in a press release that there are "many indications of the structure of the State collapsing in Libya". He also urged the Libyan state to listen to people's demands. Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called the situation in Libya a genocide and called for massive intervention from the international community. He argued a resolution was now needed allowing control of Libyan airspace so as to stop mercenaries entering the country. He called Gaddafi a "sick and dangerous" "tyrant". Peru fully severed diplomatic ties with Libya's government. and the African Union conducted a security meeting on the rapidly changing situation in Libya. The European Union agreed in principle to impose sanctions, the form of which to be decided the following Friday, and the Dutch government met in emergency session to consider freezing billions of euros of assets invested by Tamoil, the Libyan government's oil company.
The Warfalla, the largest of the numerous tribes in the country, joined calls from other tribes for Gaddafi to stand down.
Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil, the country's justice minister, who had resigned on 21 February in protest at the "excessive use of violence" against protesters, and diplomats at Libya's mission to the United Nations, called on the Libyan army to help remove "the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi". He has also asserted that Gaddafi personally ordered the Lockerbie bombing of 1988.
Youssef Sawani, a senior aide to Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, resigned from his post "to express dismay against violence" and thousands of foreigners continue to leave, with chaos at Tripoli International Airport.
Tripoli's streets were deserted after Gaddafi urged attacks on protesters, but Tobruk was still full of protesters. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said there were credible reports that about 1,000 people have been killed in Libya's week old rebellion. Frattini also confirmed that the eastern half of Libya, known as Cyrenaica, was no longer under Gaddafi's de facto control. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the government now only controls a few parts of Tripoli and the southern desert town of Sabha. Misurata is confirmed to be under protester control. The pre-Gaddafi 1951–1969 royalist Libyan flag was also reportedly raised in Zawiya, 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli. Both coastal Tripolitania and most of northern Cyrenaica were in rebel hands by the middle of the day. The Paris based International Federation for Human Rights said that the anti-Gaddafi protesters also control Sirte, Misurata, Khoms, Tarhounah, Zenten, Az Zawiyah and Zouara. Libyan government forces were sent to Sabratha after demonstrators burned government buildings and joined in the rebellion, according to Libyan newspaper Quryna.
A Reuters article published on 23 February stated that according to a WikiLeaks-leaked US cable, Gaddafi pressed the United States to foster division and disagreements in Saudi Arabia and exerted heavy pressure on the US as well as on oil companies to reimburse the $1.5 billion Libya had paid in 2008 into a fund to settle terrorism claims from the 1980s.
By the end of the day, headlines in online news services were reporting a range of themes underlining the precarious state of the regime – former justice minister Mustafa Abud Al-Jeleil alleged that Gaddafi personally ordered the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, resignations and "defections" of close allies, the loss of Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya, reported to be "alive with celebration" and other cities including Tobruk and Misurata reportedly falling with some believing that government had retained control of "just a few pockets", family members of Gaddafi allegedly refused entry to safe countries (an unscheduled plane said to be carrying Gaddafi's daughter Aisha was denied permission to enter Malta, although the Maltese government later denied knowing whether she was on board), mounting international isolation and pressure, and reports that Middle East media consider the end of his "disintegrating" regime all but inevitable.
Around midnight, some reports began to emerge describing the situation as civil war or revolution, with Gaddafi trying to ensure control over the capital and his political base Tripoli.
Battle of Misurata and Battle of Az Zawiyah
Protesters assumed complete control of Tobruk, where soldiers and residents celebrated by waving the former Libyan flag used between 1951 and 1969, firing guns into the air and honking horns. Army units in Tobruk and throughout eastern Libya sided with protesters, with some soldiers and officers participating in demonstrations. Commanders pledged to defend the "liberated territory" with their lives after Gaddafi threatened to take it back by force. Two airmen bailed out of their jet, which crashed into the desert, after defying orders to bomb Tobruk. In the collapse of central authority, residents formed public defence committees for security, and opened welfare organizations to ensure that residents had enough to eat. At newly established security checkpoints, demonstrators handed out bottled water and juice to passing motorists.
Cities and towns close to Tripoli were reported to be falling to protesters, while in Tripoli itself, pro-Gaddafi militia patrolled the streets to prevent demonstrations. In the east, civilian protesters and military units that had defected and reorganized armed themselves to prepare for an upcoming "Battle of Tripoli". Meanwhile Gaddafi prepared for the defense of the city by gathering pro-government forces in the capital and deploying tanks in the suburbs.
The North African wing of al-Qaeda announced that they would support the Libyan uprising. In a televised phone call to the people of Az Zawiyah, where fighting was taking place, Gaddafi claimed the revolts could be blamed on bin Laden, and that young Libyans had been duped with drugs and alcohol. Gaddafi dispatched an envoy to Zawiyah, who warned protesters of a "massacre" if they did not leave.
Pro-Gaddafi Libyan forces and foreign mercenaries opened fire on a mosque in Zawiya, where residents, some armed with hunting rifles, had been holding a sit-in to support the protesters in Tripoli. The troops blasted the mosque's minaret with an anti-aircraft gun, killing 10 people and wounding 150. Thousands of people then gathered in Zawiyah's main square to demonstrate against Gaddafi. Hours after the attack, Gaddafi gave a speech on state television, where he expressed condolences for the deaths, but scolded the city's residents for siding with the uprising, saying "shame on you, people of Zawiyah, control your children", and that "they are loyal to Bin Laden. What do you have to do with Bin Laden, people of Zawiyah? They are exploiting young people... I insist it is Bin Laden". He also blamed teenagers on hallucinogenic pills given to them "in their coffee with milk, like Nescafé".
Pro-Gaddafi militia and foreign mercenaries also attacked an airport outside Misurata, which was defended by protesters armed with rifles, in what would become the Battle of Misurata. During the fighting the militia bombarded the protesters with rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, while the protesters managed to seize an anti-aircraft gun and turn it against the militia. At the same time, officers from an air force school near the airport mutinied, and with the help of local residents, overran an adjacent airbase where Gaddafi loyalists were holed up, and disabled fighter jets to prevent their use against protesters. Five people were killed during the fighting: four protesters and one pro-Gaddafi militiaman, and another forty wounded.
In Tripoli, militia and foreign mercenaries continued patrolling the streets, firing guns into the air, while neighborhood watch groups barricaded side streets to try to keep the fighters out. Security forces also raided numerous homes around the city and arrested suspected political opponents. Armed militiamen entered a hospital to search for government opponents among the wounded.
Ahmed Ghadaf al-Dam, a cousin and one of Gaddafi's closest aides, defected to Egypt, protesting what he called "grave violations of human rights and human and international laws.
The European Union called for Libya to be suspended from the United Nations Human Rights Council, and for the United Nations Security Council to approve a probe to investigate "gross and systematic violations of human rights by the Libyan authorities", while Switzerland froze all of Gaddafi's assets in the country. Sources in Whitehall and the British Treasury announced that Gaddafi's assets were being tracked and that £20 billion in liquid assets and a £10 million mansion in London would be seized within days.
For the first time in days, thousands took to the streets of Tripoli to protest, with protester and civilian death tolls rising.
The dual military and civilian Mitiga International Airport, about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) east of Tripoli, seemed to have been taken over by anti-Gaddafi protesters in the afternoon, "after a series of defections". The Guardian described the takeover as "confirmed". Ian Black of The Guardian stated, "If Mitiga air base near Tripoli is confirmed as having gone over to the Libyan popular uprising it would be a serious blow for the regime close to the heart of the capital."
Colonel Gaddafi appeared at 18.55 (local time) in Green Square in Tripoli, with a microphone shouting to the crowd of Gaddafi loyalists "Sing, dance and be ready, we will fight those who are against us" and "The people who don't love me, don't deserve to live!"
In the Libyan city of Az Zawiyah, about 50 km away from the capital Tripoli, amateur video appears to show soldiers switching sides and joining anti-government protesters. Witnesses tell Al Jazeera Arabic that Libyan protesters have taken control of a number of areas in the capital, Tripoli. Security forces had abandoned the working-class Tajoura district after five days of anti-government demonstrations, residents told foreign correspondents who visited the area.
In Benghazi, a small naval base is now controlled by the opposition. The naval force consisted of a missile cruiser, a frigate, a decommissioned minesweeper and a decommissioned submarine. The commander of the fleet that remains, after his superiors deserted their posts, says that he will defend the city against Col. Gaddafi forces, saying that "He (Col. Gaddafi) means nothing to me, he sees the east part of the country as enemies and he will do anything to exterminate us".
In Benghazi, a spokesman for the revolution told AFP on Saturday they were drawing up plans for a transitional government to take power but in the nearby town of Ajdabiya, local residents said food was becoming scarce.
By the end of the day, an interim government had been formed by former justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil. The Libyan ambassador in the USA, Ali Suleiman Aujali became the first Libyan diplomat to recognise the new government.
For the first time, United States President Barack Obama urged Gaddafi to step down from power and avoid further violence. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the same stance.
After distancing itself from the Gaddafi regime, Italy officially suspended the "friendship" treaty it holds with Libya. The treaty forbids warfare or military confrontation between the two nations, but the suspension of the treaty would allow otherwise.
The United Nations Security Council Saturday night voted unanimously to impose sanctions against the Libyan authorities, slapping the country with an arms embargo and freezing the assets of its leaders, while referring the ongoing violent repression of civilian demonstrators to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Gaddafi gave an interview to a Serbian TV station, RTV Pink, calling the Security Council resolution "invalid in accordance with the United Nations Charter" and that the resolution was based on the news reports rather than on actual state in Libya. He vowed to stay in Libya blaming the "foreigners and Al-Qaeda" for the unrest, saying that the protests began when "the gangs of drugged young men attacked regular army forces".
A National Libyan Council was formed in the city of Benghazi. This body is not a provisional government but rather a seeks to act as the "political face of the uprising" The efforts of former justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil to form a provisional government appear to have stalled.
The Libyan capital, Tripoli, a city of around one million people, was largely quiet this morning, with militiamen erecting additional roadblocks and tanks parked at major intersections. Residents said the Libyan leader is arming civilian supporters to set up checkpoints and roving patrols around the capital to control movement and quash dissent.
Az Zawiyah, a city of 290,000 just 30 miles west of Tripoli, appeared to be a potential focal point for clashes as anti-government forces mounted tanks and anti-aircraft guns throughout the city center, and Gadafi forces surrounded the outskirts with tanks and military checkpoints, according to an Associated Press reporter who visited the city.
Britain has revoked the diplomatic immunity of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Sunday, urging the dictator to step down. Belgium will shut down its embassy in Libyan capital Tripoli on Monday, temporarily discontinuing diplomatic activities in the troubled north African country, the foreign ministry said. Britain, Canada, France, and the United States are among the countries that have already temporarily shut their embassies in Tripoli and evacuated their staff amid growing unrest over demands for long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi to quit.
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered "any kind of assistance" to Libyans and opposition groups seeking to overthrow Gaddafi.
Hafiz Ghoga, spokesman for the new National Libyan Council that was launched in the eastern city of Benghazi, said the council was not an interim government, was not contacting foreign governments and did not want them to intervene. "We will help liberate other Libyan cities, in particular Tripoli through our national army, our armed forces, of which part have announced their support for the people," Ghoga said, but he did not give details about how the council would help. Although not a direct response to Clinton's remarks, Ghoga said: "We are completely against foreign intervention. The rest of Libya will be liberated by the people and Gadhafi's security forces will be eliminated by the people of Libya."
Battle of Misurata: it was reported that opposition forces shot down a government warplane.
The United States Navy began positioning several ships near the coast of Libya, though it is still unclear what action they might take. Calls for a military enforced no-fly-zone on Libya became increasingly prominent, and rhetoric used by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggests the implication of such is likely. Clinton also stepped up her rhetoric against Gaddafi, calling for his immediate removal.
Muammar Gaddafi has reportedly appointed the head of Libya's foreign intelligence service to speak to the leadership of the anti-government protesters in the east of the country.
The United States froze 30 billion dollars of assets belonging to Ghadafi, the largest amount of assets ever frozen.
On Monday, pro-Gadhafi forces tried to retake control of the western border crossings with Tunisia that had fallen under opposition control and they bombed an ammunition depot in the rebel-held east, residents in the area said. The Libyan Defense Ministry denied the bombing.
During the day regime forces attacked Zawiya and Misurata, but were decisively repelled by anti government forces with a small number of casualties on both sides.
Brigadier Musa’ed Ghaidan Al Mansouri, the head of the Al Wahat Security Directorate, and Brigadier Hassan Ibrahim Al Qarawi defect to the protester side.
Brigadier Dawood Issa Al Qafsi later defected to the opposition as well. The brigadier also confirmed that the eastern towns of Braiga, Bisher, Ogaila, Sultan and Zwaitina are under opposition control as well.