BBC news 2011-08-22

BBC News with Gaenor Howells

Hundreds of Libyan rebels have arrived in the capital Tripoli after fighting their way from the west. They were greeted by people lining the streets and waving rebel flags. Earlier, the rebels took control of a key military base on the western approach to Tripoli. Other rebels have set up checkpoints in suburbs on the eastern outskirts of the capital. There's been gunfire near the central hotel where foreign journalists are staying. Matthew Price sent this report.

The rebels have called this "zero hour" - the hour when the uprising came back to Tripoli. Throughout the night and much of the day, there's been the sound of gunfire, small arms and heavy weapons and explosions, both sides fighting in what may be the final battle of this six-month-long conflict. It's clear there have been bloody battles in parts of the city. In areas where the fighting has not been taking place, people were said to be staying indoors. A government source here told the BBC that there are 65,000 professional soldiers loyal to Colonel Gaddafi ready to defend this city. The source also believes that the tribes here are preparing to protect their own.

The Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi says he'll not abandon Tripoli and that he'll stay there until the end. Speaking on Libyan state TV, Colonel Gaddafi also said he would be victorious.

"I am with you in this battle; I am in your midst now; I am with you with my rifle. We will not surrender; we won't ever abandon Tripoli for colonisers and traitors; we will sacrifice Tripoli with our blood and soul; we will sacrifice Libya with our blood and soul."

There have been renewed international calls for Colonel Gaddafi to stand down immediately. A Nato spokeswoman said his government was crumbling. The White House said it believed his days were numbered. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it would be good if Colonel Gaddafi gave up power as quickly as possible. The French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Libya had reached a decisive moment.

The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says his government is in no danger of falling despite five months of street protests. In an interview with state television, he defended his response to the protests.

"The solution in Syria is a political one, but if there is violence, it should be met. Police, security and riot police - any country in the world, they use these means to quash any anti-social behaviour."

He said steps were being taken to introduce a multi-party system.

"The main thing is to allow parties time to form their bases, to form their manifestos and to mobilise. But as a medium, middle-of-the-road option, maybe within six months, we could see elections."

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An emergency meeting of the Arab League has condemned Israel's air attacks on the Gaza Strip and said the United Nations should take steps to end the raids. At least 15 people have been killed in the Israeli bombing, which followed attacks by gunmen in southern Israel in which eight Israelis died. There's also been a barrage of rocket attacks on southern Israel from Gaza. Jordan has urged an immediate halt to the Israeli action, warning that it threatened regional stability.

A national ceremony of remembrance has taken place in the Norwegian capital Oslo for the victims of the massacre a month ago. Relatives of the victims and survivors were joined at the ceremony by politicians, the emergency services and the Norwegian royal family. Steve Rosenberg reports.

At a giant arena, on a stage covered in candles, an artist sang of My Little Norway - a handful of peace among plateaus and fjords. This was Norway's national ceremony of remembrance. With music and poems and speeches, this is how a nation brought to an end one month of mourning. In the hall were family members and friends of the dead, and those too who had survived the shooting spree on Utoeya island. In a speech, King Harald of Norway declared that freedom is stronger than fear. Norwegians, he said, would continue to live freely.

Pressure groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo have called on the 10 million inhabitants of the capital Kinshasa each to light a candle to protest against severe electricity cuts in the city. They say everybody should light their candles at the same time on Sunday evening to light up the city, which is often cast into darkness. Congo's hydroelectric dams are poorly maintained, and water levels are low.

BBC News.