MUST SEE: Incredible Photos From Battle Of Tripoly

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TIME: In Libya, the fall of a dictator came faster than anyone expected. After six months of fighting along what were often stagnated front lines, the rebels succeeded last week in overwhelming the forces of Col. Muammar Gaddafi to take control of the Libyan capital. The sudden assault sent the enigmatic 69-year-old Libyan leader and his family into hiding; his forces scattering. And throughout Tripoli, TIME contract photographer Yuri Kozyrev and I have watched over the past week as a population celebrates its victory over a tyrant. As security improves with each night, more and more families flock into the city’s iconic Green Square—now renamed Martyrs’ Square—where Gaddafi once delivered his bombastic speeches. And in a sprawling assortment of military bases, mansions, villas and farms, curious Libyans have sifted through the surprises and the horrors left behind by a 42-year-old regime. MORE

UPDATE: Moammar Gadhafi’s son al-Saadi is trying to negotiate the terms of his own surrender, the rebel commander in Tripoli told The Associated Press on Wednesday in what would be a major blow to the Libyan leader’s crumbling regime. The commander, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, said al-Saadi first called him Tuesday and asked whether his safety could be guaranteed. “We told him ‘Don’t fear for your life. We will guarantee your rights as a human being, and will deal with you humanely,’ said Belhaj, confirming a report on Al-Jazeera television. Belhaj added that al-Saadi would be turned over to Libyan legal authorities after his surrender. If the offer is confirmed – the rebels have previously claimed to have captured Gadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam, who later turned up free – the surrender would give the rebels a significant boost as they try to consolidate their hold over the country with the longtime dictator and several sons and aides still at large. MORE

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