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Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

NATO's role in Libya was crucial to the rebellion that toppled Moammar Gadhafi, but that assistance came at a cost, according to some Libyans.

Mohammed Abueishi lives in the Souq al-Juma neighborhood of Tripoli, near an apartment building on a quiet residential street that was hit by a NATO airstrike a little after 1 a.m. on June 19.

"I was sleeping and suddenly there was an enormous blast and all the doors and the windows burst open. There was a huge amount of dust in the house," he said. "I stumbled out to find my uncle's house destroyed."

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Forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi terrorized the Libyan city of Misrata during the civil war. Because it never fell, the city became an icon of the revolution. But Misrata now is gaining a reputation for a militia that is carrying out acts of vengeance, looting and restricting movements in and out of the city.

Wags now quip that a visa is needed to enter Misrata because of the tight restrictions on access to the large coastal city. But it's no joke to the people here.

Many civilians have fled the fighting in the besieged Libyan city of Sirte in recent days and have ended up in a nearby village, which has one distinction: It's where deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was born. But Sirte residents are not the only ones finding shelter there.

From presidential palace to people's market — in Libya, Moammar Gadhafi's compound in the heart of Tripoli has been put to new use, as NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro explains in this Reporter's Notebook.

For most Libyans, Bab al-Azizia was the most foreboding address in the country. Moammar Gadhafi gave some of his most defiant speeches from the sprawling compound in Tripoli.

In Libya, anti-government fighters are facing fierce resistance in Moammar Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte. It's one of the last areas that has not fallen to rebel forces. But it's hardly the last bastion of support for the deposed leader.

On a busy afternoon in the market in the southern Tripoli neighborhood of Abu Salim, it doesn't take long for a man to approach a visiting reporter and say under his breath, "You know, we all support Gadhafi here."

David Gerbi, a Jew whose family fled Libya more than four decades ago, visited Tripoli's old Jewish synagogue on Monday with big plans. He went to pray and to clean up garbage from a building long empty, though still grand with its soaring arches and butter-colored walls.

Gerbi, a 56-year-old psychoanalyst who has lived in Italy, said he had permission for the restoration from the local Muslim cleric and members of the Transitional National Council, the force that ousted Moammar Gadhafi back in August.

But two days into his effort, it came to an abrupt end.

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