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Who Are the Libyan Rebels?
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22 Aug 2011 12:54 PM EST



-by Vania Andre, Staff Writer

After 12 hours of fighting and more than 5,000 people wounded and 1,300 killed, rebel forces opposing the Gaddafi regime took Tripoli. With the help of NATO air strikes, the rebels have succeeded in taking the capital. Initially, however, international forces were suspicious about supporting them because of their lack of organization and unclear motives.

The rebels who have taken Tripoli are not an organized military or political party. They are a group of tribes' men and civilians. Mary-Jane Deeb, head of the Africa and Middle East Division at the Library of Congress said in a recent interview, "this is not an Islamic movement." She explained these rebels are not fighting in the name of God; they're fighting for jobs and equal distribution of wealth.

After months of unorganized attacks, the rebels have structured and coordinated their forces. However, there are still several rogue militia groups fighting outside of the rebels’ political body, the National Transitional Council (NTC). In March the NTC declared itself the only legitimate body representing the people of Libya.

"Either we achieve freedom and race to catch up with humanity and world developments, or we are shackled and enslaved under the feet of the tyrant Mu'ammar Gaddafi where we shall live in the midst of history," the NTC said on their official website.

The majority of these rogue militias are in the west with the NTC mainly in the East.  The NTC sent commanders to the West to facilitate communication between all forces. Analysts say the rebel forces would have been defeated by now if it wasn’t for the help of NATO and the international community.

"All the rebel activity is in the east," explained Garyunis University Political Science Professor Salah Sanussi in Benghazi to TIME. "The council is here, the television station is here. The foreign diplomats. Everyone. If we impress ourselves on the West, they will resent it."

If the NTC fails to bring together all rebel forces, they may face opposition from militias once the war is over.

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