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Tripoli, Libya falling to rebels, whereabouts of Gadhafi unkown
TRIPOLI, Libya (WKTV/NBC) - Libyan rebels waved flags and shot into the air in celebration Monday morning after driving into Tripoli's vast Green Square, taking control of what had been the symbolic heart of the 42-year regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
"The battle for Tripoli is clearly under way," a U.S. official told NBC News, "and what has often seemed impossible — the fall of Gadhafi — may now be attainable."
The International Criminal Court in The Hague confirmed to NBC News that Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam, his onetime heir apparent, had been arrested and was in rebel custody.
A second son, Mohammed, told Reuters that he had been detained and was under house arrest. A rebel leader, meanwhile, said the unit in charge of protecting Gadhafi and Tripoli had surrendered and joined the revolt, allowing the opposition forces to move in freely.
The U.S. official told NBC News that if those reports were true, "then we could be watching the game changer unfolding."
"Whether or not Gadhafi reads the tea leaves the same way is the big question," the official said.
President Barack Obama, on vacation in Massachusetts, told reporters that he would make a statement once "we get full confirmation of what is happening."
Associated Press reporters with the rebels said they moved easily from the western outskirts into the regime's stronghold in a dramatic turning of the tide in the six-month civil war.
Gadhafi's whereabouts were unknown. But he delivered a series of angry and defiant audio messages on state television, in which he was not shown. In the latest one, he acknowledged that the opposition forces were moving into Tripoli and warned that the city would be turned into another Baghdad.
"How come you allow Tripoli, the capital, to be under occupation once again?" Gadhafi asked. "The traitors are paving the way for the occupation forces to be deployed in Tripoli."
He called on his supporters to march in the streets of the capital and "purify it" from "the rats."