Gadaffi son rallies loyalists*
Tuesday, 23rd August, 2011
Free: Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam raises his hands to supporters in Tripoli. Reuters
A son of Muammar Gadaffi who rebels said they had captured made a surprise appearance with jubilant supporters in Tripoli overnight and issued a rallying cry to loyalists to fight off opponents who say they control most of the Libyan capital.
Saif al-Islam, who has been seen as his father's heir apparent, visited the Tripoli hotel where foreign journalists are staying to declare that the government was winning the battle against the rebels.
He took journalists to his father's Bab al-Aziziyah stronghold. Television footage showed Saif smiling, waving and shaking hands with supporters, as well as holding his arms aloft and making the V for victory sign.
"We broke the back of the rebels. It was a trap. We gave them a hard time, so we are winning," Saif said.
"Take up arms today, take up arms today," Saif told loyalists waiting to be given weapons. "Inshallah (God willing) we will attack the rats today," he said to cheers.
Saif's arrest had been reported both by rebels and the International Criminal Court in The Hague and his appearance before the foreign media raised questions as to the rebels' credibility.
He said Tripoli was under government control and that he did not care about the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court seeking him and his father for crimes against humanity.
Gadaffi himself has not been seen in public for several weeks before the rebels arrived in the capital at the weekend. But when asked if his father was safe and well in Tripoli, Saif told journalists: "Of course."
World leaders urged Gadaffi, 69, to surrender to prevent more bloodshed and appealed for an orderly transition of power, as the six-month-old battle for control of the oil-producing North African nation appeared to enter its final stages.