Libyan bulldozers began knocking down the green walls surrounding Muammar Gaddafi's main Tripoli compound known as Bab al-Aziziya on Sunday, as the new leaders said it was time "to tear down this symbol of tyranny".
The sprawling, fortress-like compound has long been hated
by Libyans who feared to even walk nearby during Gaddafi's more than four
decades in power and its capture was seen as a turning point in the civil war
as revolutionaries overran the capital in late August.
Ahmad Ghargory, commander of a revolutionary brigade,
said the area will be turned into a public park.
"It's the revolutionary decision to tear down this
symbol of tyranny," Mr Ghargory said. "We were busy with the war, but
now we have the space to do this."
Already, Libyans have turned the courtyard in front of
Gaddafi's former house, which he used for many fiery speeches trying to rally
supporters during the uprising, into a weekly pet market. Tripoli residents
roam the premises as if at a museum, with vendors selling revolutionary flags
and other souvenirs.
The Bab al-Aziziya compound had been a mystery to most
Libyans. Though it is one of the city's largest landmarks, no streets signs
indicate where it is. Few ever entered, and many Tripoli residents said they
wouldn't even walk nearby, fearing security guards on the compound's high green
walls would get suspicious and arrest or shoot them.
"I was never able to enter this building or even
pass by these walls before. We won't have any more walls in our lives," Mr
The compound was one of the main targets for Nato air
strikes during the months leading to Gaddafi's ouster in late August.
Libyan fighters overran the area on Aug. 23 during fierce
fighting for the capital, jubilantly rampaging through the remnants of
barracks, personal living quarters and offices seen as the most defining symbol
of Gaddafi's nearly 42-year rule.
Gaddafi's residence, now gutted and covered with
graffiti, was also targeted in a U.S. bombing raid in April 1986, after
Washington held Libya responsible for a blast at a Berlin disco that killed two
U.S. servicemen. A sculpture of a clenched fist crushing a U.S. fighter jet
that had been erected after the strike has been removed.