Gadhafi Poised to Flee as Rebels Near Tripoli
Leader preparing for exile in Tunisia, US officials say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2011 3:40 AM CDT
Updated Aug 19, 2011 7:58 AM CDT
Smoke billows from Tajura, a suburb of the Libyan capital Tripoli, following a NATO air strike.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year rule may be entering its final days, US officials tell NBC, citing intelligence reports. The dictator has made preparations to flee with his family to exile in Tunisia, according to the sources. The rebels seeking to end his rule have made dramatic advances in recent days, leaving Tripoli increasingly isolated.

At least seven blasts were heard near Gadhafi's compound this morning as NATO jets pounded Tripoli, according to an AP reporter staying in a hotel in the city. Residents fleeing the city to avoid the expected rebel attack say living conditions have been deteriorating rapidly, with power outages lasting days and gun battles heard after nightfall.