TRIPOLI, Libya (The Blaze/AP) - Disgraced Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi is remaining defiant until the end.
Gadhafi vowed Wednesday to fight on "until victory or martyrdom" and called on residents of the Libyan capital and loyal tribesmen across his North African nation to free Tripoli from the "devils and traitors" who have overrun it.
The broadcast came a day after hundreds of Libyan rebels stormed Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya fortress-like compound in the capital but found no sign of the longtime leader. On Monday, the rebels entered Tripoli, pouring into the Mediterranean metropolis of some 2 million people in their thousands in a stunning breakthrough. They claim to control 80 percent of Tripoli.
Tuesday's ransacking of Bab al-Aziziya, long the nexus of Gadhafi's power, marked the effective collapse of his 42-year-old regime. But with Gadhafi and his powerful sons still unaccounted for - and gunbattles flaring across the nervous city - the fighters cannot declare victory.
In an address given from an unknown location and broadcast on the Al-Ouroba TV, Gadhafi asked: "Why are you letting them wreak havoc?" The Syria-based satellite station is owned by Iraqi dissident Mishaan Jibouri and has been supporting Gadhafi as well as Syria's embattled leader Bashar Assad.
Sounding subdued and without his usually fiery rhetoric, Gadhafi said he would fight "the aggression with all strength until either victory or death."
The channel earlier quoted the Libyan leader as saying he had left the Bab al-Aziziya compound in a "tactical move" after 64 NATO airstrikes reduced it to rubble.
Gadhafi's chief government spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, also managed to get word out in a phone interview with the same station, promising "we will be back to take Tripoli back."
The 69-year-old Libya leader has routinely addressed his supporters from state Libyan television, but the rebels have taken the channel off the air on Tuesday.
Reuters reports on more of his remarks:
"All Libyans must be present in Tripoli, young men, tribal men and women must sweep through Tripoli and comb it for traitors," the Libyan leader said. "I have been out a bit in Tripoli discreetly, without being seen by people, and ... I did not feel that Tripoli was in danger," he added.
So if Gadhafi escaped from his compound, how was he able to do it? The compound reportedly has a network of escape tunnels. Al-Jazeera reports they are even large enough to accommodate vehicles:
(H/T: The Atlantic)