Libyan rebels gaining strength - and defectors

To the east of Gaddafi's stronghold in Tripoli, it appears that much of the country is, if not in rebel hands, then clearly out of Gaddafi's control.

Even some neighborhoods in the capitol city are "no go zones" for Gaddafi loyalists. But the dictator can still inflict enormous casualties on civilians and until he is dead or no longer in Libya, the slaughter will continue.

The New York Times:

The most striking display of strength was seen here, 30 miles from Colonel Qaddafi's Tripoli redoubt. Zawiyah is one of several cities near the capital controlled by rebels, who have repulsed repeated attempts by Colonel Qaddafi's forces to retake them. And the arsenal they displayed helped to explain how the rebels held Zawiyah.

"Army, army, army!" excited residents shouted, pointing to a defected soldier standing watch at Zawiyah's entrance as he raised his machine gun in the air and held up two fingers for victory.

A few yards away a captured antiaircraft gun fired several deafening salutes into the air, and gleeful residents invited newcomers to clamber aboard one of several army tanks now in rebel hands. Residents said that when Colonel Qaddafi's forces mounted a deadly assault to retake the city last Thursday - shell holes were visible in the central mosque and ammunition littered the central square - local army units switched sides to join the rebels, as about 2,000 police officers had done the week before.

And on Sunday, scores of residents armed with machine guns and rifles joined in a chant that has become the slogan of pro-democracy uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and across the Arab world: "The people want to bring down the regime!"

His downfall cannot come soon enough.

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