Gaddafi Loses Opulent 'Country Club' Base

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's compound was a sprawling blend of barracks, personal living quarters and offices seen as the most defining symbol of the leader's long spell in power.

Now in rebel hands, the Bab al Aziziya military barracks came under heavy attack from Nato aircraft in the months leading up to the battle for Tripoli.

It was surrounded by a high wall fitted with sensors, alarms and remote-control infrared cameras that constantly scanned the access roads, authors David Blundy and Andrew Lycett write in their book Gaddafi and the Libyan Revolution.

The video was fed back to a bank of television screens in a main security room.

Col Gaddafi's home and office sat in a bunker designed by West German engineers to withstand massive attack.

The leader's wife and family lived in a two-storey building, their opulent living room decorated with glass screens, paintings and sofas.

Col Gaddafi entertained guests in a Bedouin-style tent pitched near two tennis courts about 200 yards from the family home.

Blundy and Lycett describe Bab al Aziziya as "a pleasant place, with the security of a prison but the facilities of a country club".

A cruise missile blasted an administration building in Bab al Aziziya in March, knocking down half the three-storey structure early in the campaign of air strikes against Col Gaddafi.

Months of Nato airstrikes left much of the rest of the compound largely demolished.

It was also targeted in a US bombing in April 1986, after Washington held Libya responsible for a blast at a Berlin disco that killed two US servicemen.

After rebels breached the walls on Tuesday, one climbed onto a sculpture of a clenched fist crushing a US fighter jet that had been erected after the strike.

Some rebels seized Col Gaddafi's possessions from his private rooms, including a hat and his golf buggy.

Blundy and Lycett describe the compound as dominated by the 100-foot metal skeleton of a communications mast that kept Col Gaddafi in touch with his senior army officers in Sirte, Benghazi, and the main control centre at the oasis town of Jufrah, 125 miles south of Sirte in the middle of the desert.