With rebel troops consolidating their positions in nearby Zawiya, including seizing the oil refinery in the town, rebel leader Mustafa Jalil today predicted a “veritable bloodbath” in Tripoli, including “a catastrophe that will touch (Moammar Gadhafi) and his family.”
Indeed, living conditions in Tripoli are already worsening precipitously, with food prices skyrocketing and frequent power outages. The residents on the periphery of town are increasingly fearful of what will happen if, or possibly when, the rebels arrive.
But whether or not the rebels could actually occupy Tripoli is another matter entirely. Though they have managed to hold Zawiya for a surprisingly long time and even made some inroads in the desert south of Tripoli, the regime has been heavily fortifying the capital in preparation for a major battle.
And the number of rebel fighters in the west is not that enormous. Though the force in Misrata managed to extend itself out somewhat, the force in the south is reported to be no more than a few hundred strong, and far short of the massive army required to occupy a fortified city like Tripoli.
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