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Timeline: Libya's uprising against Muammar Gaddafi

(Reuters) - Here is a timeline on the civil war in Libya since the first protests began against the 42-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi in February:

Feb 15/16, 2011 - A riot in Benghazi is triggered by the arrest of human rights activist Fethi Tarbel, who has worked to free political prisoners, Quryna newspaper reports.

February 17 - Activists designate a day of rage on the 2006 anniversary security forces killing protesters attacking the in Benghazi consulate of former colonial power, Italy.

February 24 - Anti-Libyan government militias take control of Misrata after evicting forces loyal to Gaddafi.

February 26 - The U.N. Security Council imposes sanctions on Gaddafi and his family, and refers Libya’s crackdown on rebels to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

February 28 - EU governments approve a package of sanctions against Gaddafi and his closest advisers including an arms embargo and bans on travel to the bloc.

March 5 - The National Council meets in Benghazi and declares itself the sole representative for Libya.

March 10 - France recognizes the Libyan National Council as the legitimate representative of Libya’s people. Libya suspends diplomatic relations with France the next day.

March 16 - Forces loyal to Gaddafi are near rebel-held Benghazi. Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam tells France-based TV channel Euronews: “Everything will be over in 48 hours.”

March 17 - The U.N. Security Council votes to authorize a no-fly zone over Libya and “all necessary measures” -- code for military action -- to protect civilians against Gaddafi’s army.

March 19 - The first air strikes halt the advance of Gaddafi’s forces on Benghazi and target Libya’s air defenses.

March 28 - Qatar becomes the first Arab country to recognize Libya’s rebels as the people’s legitimate representatives.

March 29 - A London conference of 40 governments and organizations agrees to set up a contact group comprising 20 countries to coordinate efforts in a post-Gaddafi Libya.

March 30 - Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa defects and flies to Britain.

April 10 - Gaddafi accepts a roadmap for ending the conflict, South African President Jacob Zuma says after leading a delegation of four African leaders at talks in Tripoli. Rebels reject the plan the next day.

April 30 - A NATO missile attack on a house in Tripoli kills Gaddafi’s youngest son and three grandchildren.

May 30 - In his first appearance in a month, Gaddafi renews a ceasefire call in talks with visiting South African President Zuma but gives no sign he will heed demands to step down.

June 1 - Libya’s top oil official Shokri Ghanem appears in Rome, saying he defected after the relentless bloodshed.

June 8 - Western and Arab nations meet rebels in Abu Dhabi discussing what U.S. officials call the “end-game” for Gaddafi.

June 15 - Libya approves a $31.4 billion budget for the rest of 2011, to show it is functioning as normal.

June 27 - The ICC issues arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, charged with crimes against humanity.

July 15 - Libya’s rebel Transitional National Council (NTC) wins recognition as the legitimate government of Libya from the U.S. at a meeting in Turkey of the contact group on Libya.

July 26 - U.N. envoy Abdul Elah al-Khatib says after talks with Libya’s prime minister, the government and the rebels remain far apart in efforts to end the crisis.

July 27 - Rebels win diplomatic recognition from Britain which also expels the remaining Gaddafi diplomats from London.

July 28 - Abdel Fattah Younes, Gaddafi’s former interior minister who defected to the rebels on February 22 and became their military chief, is killed.

Aug 9 - Gaddafi’s government accuses NATO of killing 85 civilians, in an air strike near Zlitan, west of Misrata.

Aug 14 - Libyan rebels take the center of Zawiyah, near Tripoli, cutting the coastal highway to Tunisia which keeps the capital supplied with food and fuel.

Aug 15 - In a barely audible telephone call to state television, Gaddafi calls on his followers to liberate Libya from rebels and NATO. “Get ready for the fight ... The blood of martyrs is fuel for the battlefield,” he says.

-- Rebels say they have captured Garyan, which controls the highway leading south from Tripoli.

Aug 16 - Libya’s rebels say they have completed moves to cut off roads to the capital after rapid advances in the west.

Aug 20 - Explosions and gunfire rattle Tripoli after days of battlefield defeats leave Gaddafi’s government and troops besieged in the capital.

Aug 21 - Rebel fighters enter Tripoli with little resistance.

-- Gaddafi makes two audio addresses over state television calling on Libyans to fight off the rebels “rats,” and saying he is in the capital and will be “with you until the end.”

-- Rebels reach Green Square, the symbolic showcase the government had until recently used for mass demonstrations in support of Gaddafi. Rebels rename it Martyrs Square.

-- Libyan rebels say they have detained two of Gaddafi’s sons, Saif al-Islam, wanted for war crimes, and his eldest son Mohammed Al-Gaddafi.

Aug 22 - Libyan government tanks and snipers put up scattered, last-ditch resistance in Tripoli after rebels sweep into the heart of the capital, cheered on by crowds.

-- Rebels say they are meeting resistance at Gaddafi’s compound at Bab al-Aziziyah. They also have said they have suffered a big number of casualties in the fight for Tripoli.

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit.