Welcome to the LibyaFeb17.com archive site

Welcome to the LibyaFeb17.com archive site

Having closely documented the Libyan Revolution, this version of the site has been moved to its dedicated archive domain so that it may remain a reference hub for those who seek to find out more about the Libyan revolution.

We pride ourselves in providing detailed daily news updates that followed the events minute by minute. We have also amassed probably the largest collection of translated material which is spread amongst videos, audio clips and official statements.

We hope you benefit as much as possible during your visit, and if you have any queries please email us on queries@libyafeb17.com

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Libyan fighters overrun Sirte

The Guardian Fighters loyal to Libya’s transitional government have overrun the last positions held by Muammar Gaddafi’s loyalists in the deposed leader’s home town of Sirte.

“Sirte has been liberated. There are no Gaddafi forces any more,” said Colonel Yunus al-Abdali, head of operations in the eastern half of the city.

“We are now chasing his fighters who are trying to run away,” he told Reuters.

Reporters on the scene say the final push to capture the remaining pro-Gaddafi positions began at about 8am on Thursday and was over after about 90 minutes. Just before the assault, about five carloads of loyalists tried to flee the enclave down the coastal highway but were killed by revolutionaries.

Revolutionaries began searching homes and buildings looking for any Gaddafi fighters who may be hiding there.

Source: The Guardian

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Video: Mahmoud Jibril vows to resign after the country’s liberation

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October 20th Updates

New York: London: Tripoli:

17:55 Al Jazeera reports that Saif al Islam Gaddafi has been captured.

14:30 Al Jazeera NTC military official Abdul Hakim Belhaj has said that Gaddafi has indeed died.

BBC13:44 BBC Mahmoud Shammam has said that Gaddafi was captured while trying to flee Sirte. He says there are big speculations but there is no confirmation. The NTC are meeting in Benghazi and will come out with a statement of clarification.

13:44 Al Jazeera is reporting that Gaddafi has died of his injuries.

12:18 Al Jazeera An NTC official has told al-Jazeera that Gaddafi has been captured and was wounded while being detained. There is still no independent verification available.

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Libyan Jew returns home after 44-year exile

TRIPOLI, Oct 1 (Reuters) – In the walled old city of Tripoli, Libya’s independence flag pokes through crumbling buildings and a gang of children wielding toy pistols tear through dusty alleyways.

In these run-down streets stands the empty, faded peach-coloured Dar Bishi synagogue.

The interior can only be seen by climbing up the rubble of a collapsed house and the ark, which would normally shelter the sacred Torah scroll, is instead stuffed with a mattress.

The Hebrew inscription above it “Hear, O Israel” is barely perceptible from wear, and empty paint cans are strewn across the floor. The site of the Mikve baths, used once for ritual cleansing, is now a trash dump where stray cats scour for food next to a discarded washing machine as veiled women look on.

Libyan Jewish exile David Gerbi said he has dreamed of restoring this synagogue for 10 years, when smoke from New York’s burning twin towers evoked one of the most powerful memories of his Libyan childhood.

The 12-year-old Gerbi and his family fled Tripoli in 1967 when an Arab-Israeli war stoked anger against the Jewish state and led to attacks on Jews in his neighbourhood.

Gaddafi expelled the rest of Libya’s 38,000 Jews two years later and confiscated their assets. Most Tripoli synagogues have since been destroyed or converted to mosques. Jewish cemeteries have been razed to make way for office blocks on the coast.

Gerbi says he is the first Jew to return to Libya since the revolt that ousted Muammar Gaddafi in August.

He said he knows this because he negotiated the extraction of the last one — his aged, dying aunt who stayed behind to protect the family treasures — from a hospice in 2002.

Now that Gaddafi is gone, Gerbi wants to help interim Libyan leaders rebuild the lost Libya of his childhood and foster the type of religious tolerance between Jews and Muslims that exists in other parts of the Maghreb such as Morocco.

And he wants the Dar Bishi synagogue to be the symbol of reconciliation between Jewish and Muslim Libyans.

Talking over the Muslim call to prayer one evening last week, he told Reuters: “Some tell me I need to accept it’s over. I say no, it’s our shop, it’s our synagogue and it’s not over.”

“There is something unresolved, unfinished. That is why I am here.”


A Jungian psychotherapist who lives in Italy, Gerbi is also a representative of the World Organization of Libyan Jews.

He sports an “I love Libya” T-shirt with a giant red heart in the Tripoli hotel lobbies where he seeks meetings with officials of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) about Jewish prospects in post-Gaddafi Libya.

Since the revolt against Gaddafi started, Gerbi has been working with NTC officials to promote their cause in South Africa, which only recognised the interim body in late August, and by helping war victims in Benghazi hospitals.

“People called me the ‘rebel Jew’,” he said smiling proudly.

Gerbi’s contribution to the revolt was not risk-free — he said Gaddafi supporters had threatened to kill him and attempted to break into his hotel room earlier this year.

Gaddafi authorities detained and questioned him on a previous visit to Libya in 2007, when he also sought to restore the synagogue.

Now, Gerbi says he is applying to become a member of Libya’s NTC to represent the as yet non-existent Jewish population. An NTC spokesman declined to comment.

The issue of Jews returning to Libya and of Gerbi’s inclusion in the NTC are likely to be sensitive issues in a Muslim country whose former leader had for decades been one of Israel’s most outspoken critics on the international stage.

In a sign of the tensions, an Israeli photographer was detained for five months as a suspected spy while travelling in Libya last year.

Casual slurs against Jews are still common here, some of them now ironically directed against Gaddafi in graffiti across the capital.

Gerbi says he uses tricks learned as a pyschotherapist to try to bond with the Libyan people.

“I have to fix them in the eyes. It (anti-Semitism) has been so ingrained by Gaddafi that the people need to get it out. I try to transform them with my behaviour,” Gerbi explained, greeting residents of his former neighbourhood in Arabic.


Not all Libyan Jews share Gerbi’s curiosity about his former homeland or his desire to return. Even some of his own family do not support his project.

“(NTC chairman Mustafa Abdel) Jalil was an inspiration because he was the first to disagree by going against Gaddafi. What I am doing is the same. I am disconnecting with my community. I want to show them it is possible and that we can come back,” Gerbi said, referring to Jalil’s decision to break with the Gaddafi government ahead of the February revolt.

One of Gerbi’s goals is to reclaim properties confiscated by the state, including his own family apartment in a resplendent open-air white stucco arcade once known as the Galleria de Bono.

Now deserted, it echoes with celebratory music drifting over from Martyrs’ Square and a barefoot man prays on the tile floors where small plants have taken root.

It is unclear how Gerbi’s ambitions will be received by Libyans — and other returning exiles who may also feel entitled to recover properties confiscated by the former authorities.

Gerbi worries that his aspirations could simply be sidelined in a country faced with the immense and pressing challenges of winning a war, kickstarting the economy and rebuilding.

“My worst fear is that the government puts this on a list in order to be forgotten,” he said.

“I don’t want to become again the forgotten refugee.”

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October 1st Updates

New York: London: Tripoli:

Reuters17:36 Reuters Raking the night skies over Tripoli with gunfire to celebrate Muammar Gaddafi’s fall last month is lethal, bad for business and must stop, say residents of the Libyan capital.

“It’s an Arab tradition — but it’s not safe. We need security now,” said office worker Fatima Zaid, among a few thousand people gathered at Tripoli’s emblematic Martyr’s Square on Friday evening.

Local residents say at least four people have been killed in celebratory gunfire in the area of the square. The streets approaching it are littered with spent cartridges, many of them high velocity rounds blasted into the air in festive gunfire.

National Transitional Council (NTC) officials, anti-Gaddafi rebels and residents like Zaid, who has a young daughter, are calling for a stop to the shooting of assault rifles, machine guns and pistols to mark their new found freedoms.

Al Jazeera16:07 Al Jazeera English Passengers from Istanbul arrived at Tripoli’s airport on Saturday on the first commercial international flight to land in the Libyan capital since the international coalition imposed a no-fly zone over the country last March.

Flags representing Turkey and Libya’s new leadership flew outside Mitiga International Airport as the flight landed.

Inside the airport, passengers waited patiently and queued at the check-in desk to board the next flight.

“We are going to Turkey for business because it has been a long time since we travelled. We are happy that the airline is back in the meantime and we thank God,” said Tripoli resident Mohammed al-Jaroushi.

The U.N. Security Council resolution imposed the no-fly zone as part of international efforts to protect anti-government protesters under attack from Gaddafi loyalists.

Reuters12:29 Reuters Aid workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross arrived at the hometown of Muammar Gaddafi on Saturday and are trying to enter the besieged Libyan city.

Al Jazeera05:10 Al Jazeera English Fighters for Libya’s new rulers have been forced to regroup on the edge of Sirte, after pro-Gaddafi snipers halted a two-week old assault on the ousted despot’s hometown.

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Desperate civilians are fleeing the besieged Libyan coastal city of Sirte where the battle to dislodge fighters loyal to ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi has caused heavy casualties, U.N. and other sources said.

Interim government forces on Thursday recaptured the airport in Sirte, where Gaddafi loyalists have been using sniper, rocket and artillery fire to fight off full-scale assaults and retain one of their last two main bastions.

But the prolonged fight for Gaddafi’s hometown has raised mounting concern for civilians trapped inside the city of about 100,000 people, with each side accusing the other of endangering civilians.

“They’re shelling constantly. There’s indiscriminate fire within individual neighborhoods and from one area to another,” Hassan, a resident who escaped the city, told Reuters.

Aid agencies said on Wednesday that a humanitarian disaster loomed in Sirte amid rising casualties and shrinking supplies of water, electricity and food.

Libya’s interim government has asked the United Nations for fuel for ambulances to evacuate its wounded fighters from Sirte, a U.N. source in Libya said on Thursday.

The U.N. is sending trucks of drinking water for the increasing flow of civilians crammed into vehicles on the road from Sirte, heading either toward Benghazi to the east or Misrata to the west, he added.

But fighting around the city and continuing insecurity around Bani Walid, the other loyalist hold-out, are preventing the world body from deploying aid workers inside, he said.

“There are two places we’d really like access to, Sirte and Ben Walid, because of concern on the impact of conflict on the civilian population,” the U.N. source in Tripoli, speaking by telephone on condition of anonymity, told Reuters in Geneva.


In Tripoli, interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said the NTC had allocated $400 million to treat fighters who were wounded in the rebellion against Gaddafi and provide grants for Libyan students studying abroad.

Jibril also said that families of fighters killed in fighting would be paid 400 Libyan dinars ($335) a month and a monthly salary of 450 to 500 Libyan dinars would be paid to Libyans who quit their jobs to pick up arms against Gaddafi. He did not say for how long those payments would be made.

Libya’s new rulers are trying to get a grip on the whole country, rein in their own unruly militias and get on with reconstruction and democratic reform.

Jibril said efforts to form a new interim government have been suspended until after the capture of Sirte and Bani Walid.

“There are no negotiations at the moment to form a transitional government after the NTC decided to keep the current formation to facilitate the (country’s) affairs until the land is liberated,” Jibril said.

“There are two fronts, Sirte and Bani Walid. I hope those two areas would be liberated soon so that we can start forming a new interim government,” he said, ruling out any role in the future government.

There has been speculation that divisions are preventing the formation of a more inclusive interim government.


More than a month after NTC fighters captured Tripoli, Gaddafi remains on the run, trying to rally resistance to those who ended his 42-year rule. Some of his family members have taken refuge in neighboring Algeria and Niger.

Interpol issued an alert calling for the arrest of Gaddafi’s son Saadi who fled to Niger three weeks ago. The Lyon-based police agency said it was acting at the request of the NTC, which accuses Saadi of leading military units that cracked down on protests and of misappropriating property.

Interpol has already issued “red notices” for the arrest of Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and his intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, all wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.

Gaddafi’s former prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, who had fled to Tunisia, only to be arrested for illegal entry, has started a hunger strike in prison to protest a Libyan request for his extradition, his lawyer said.

Tunisian prosecutors say Mahmoudi will stay in jail pending an extradition decision, even though he won an appeal against a six-month prison sentence for entering Tunisia illegally.

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September 30th Updates

New York: London: Tripoli:

Reuters10:27 Reuters Interpol issued an alert on Thursday calling for the arrest of a second son of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, putting pressure on Niger to detain Saadi Gaddafi who fled there three weeks ago.

AFP09:00 AFP Muammar Gaddafi’s spokesman Moussa Ibrahim was captured on Thursday outside of the former Libyan strongman’s hometown of Sirte, National Transitional Council’s [NTC] field commanders told AFP.

“Misrata fighters contacted us and gave us the information that Mussa Ibrahim has been captured,” said Mustafa bin Dardef, of the NTC’s Zintan Brigade.

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Video: Libyan fighters capture Sirte airport

Fighters supporting Libya’s National Transitional Council say they they are now in control of the airport in Sirte, Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports.

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September 29th Updates

New York: London: Tripoli:

AFP10:00 AFP Libyan fighters have appealed to NATO to step up the air strikes against pro-Gaddafi targets in and around Bani Walid.

An AFP correspondent said that despite heavy use of tanks, rocket launchers and artillery, the NTC forces had not advanced from positions held for the past few days in the desert town 170 kilometres (100 miles) southeast of Tripoli.

“There is always incoming missile and artillery fire. We are returning fire with heavy weapons but we are not sending in infantry. We are waiting for reinforcements,” Captain Walid Khaimej told AFP.

Reuters09:52 Reuters Libya’s interim justice minister Mohammed al-Alagi said on Wednesday he was ready to work with Scottish authorities to probe the possible involvement of others in the Lockerbie bombing apart from the sole Libyan convicted for the attack.

Answering a question through an interpreter at a news conference, he said: “I’d like to confirm that we are accepting any facts that might arise in this regard, if there is any suspicion about any other person.”

“We will cooperate in this regard with whoever has any other facts, according to international treaties.”

Earlier, the NTC had said that the case of the Lockerbie bombing was closed.

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