As Libyan rebels first captured an important military base just outside the city and then streamed towards Tripoli, it was doubtful they would be able to retain the ground they would soon occupy. On other occasions, rebels had captured urban areas only to be pushed back by forces loyal to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
No doubt that was the scenario anticipated by Mr. Gadhafi and his spokesman, Musa Ibrahim, hours before Tripoli fell to the rebels.
A newscaster at the state run media appeared hopeful.
The government, Mr. Ibrahim crowed, demands “an immediate halt of NATO's aggression against our nation and for all parties to sit down and begin a peaceful way out of this crisis. We believe unless the international community heeds this appeal, many people will be killed and terrible crimes will be committed."
Threats of blood and mayhem have never lagged far behind calls made by Mr. Gadhafi’s government for talks and reconciliation. And so, the newscaster, brandishing a pistol as he spoke, vowed to kill the rebels.
Mr. Gadhafi taunted the insurgents as rats, offered a cease fire and warned that atrocities would ensue if the rebel offensive continued.
Late Sunday night, Mr. Ibrahim described the rebels as “vengeful, hateful" tribes and prophesied that “"NATO will be held responsible morally and legally for the deaths" that might occur that night.
The night passed, the day dawned, three of Mr. Gadhafi’s sons were captured by the rebels, and the search for Dad was on.