Tripoli fighting is "zero hour": rebel official

BENGHAZI, Libya Sat Aug 20, 2011 7:09pm EDT

A building Libyan officials described as a civil engineering office lies flattened after being bombed overnight by NATO in Tripoli, August 20, 2011. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

A building Libyan officials described as a civil engineering office lies flattened after being bombed overnight by NATO in Tripoli, August 20, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Paul Hackett

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BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Opponents of Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli have risen up in coordination with rebels encircling the capital, a senior official in the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) said on Sunday.

"The zero hour has started. The rebels in Tripoli have risen up," said Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice-chairman of the NTC, based in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

"There is coordination with the rebels in Tripoli. This was a pre-set plan. They've been preparing for a while. There's coordination with the rebels approaching from the east, west and south."

Ghoga said NATO warplanes were launching raids to distract Gaddafi's forces. "The next hours are crucial. Many of their (pro-Gaddafi) brigades and their commanders have fled."

(Reporting by Robert Birsel; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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