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Remaining British nationals shipped out of Libya as Gaddafi endgame approaches

Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials have confirmed the few remaining British nationals in the Libyan capital of Tripoli are being shipped out to Malta.

The decision comes as fierce fighting sweeps the city as the regime of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi appears close to collapse.

Fighting has been reported around the compound of embattled leader, with rebel forces having taken control of much of the city on Sunday evening.

Celebratory crowds have remained in the central Green Square, previously the scene of nightly pro-Gaddafi demonstrations.

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said earlier “a relatively small” number of UK nationals currently remain in Tripoli, principally those with reasons to stay.

“We believe that the vast majority of British nationals who want to leave have now left Libya through commercial means, Government charters and military evacuations,” explained an FCO statement.

“However, the FCO in London continues to offer advice to British nationals in Libya, including those wishing to leave.” 

End in sight for Gaddafi

There was no word of the colonel’s whereabouts on Monday morning.

Rebels – supported by NATO forces – swept into the city from the east, south and west over the weekend.

However, opposition leaders confirmed on Monday morning pro-Gaddafi still occupied approximately 20 per cent of the capital.

Western leaders have welcomed the rebel advance and urged Col Gaddafi to go.

“The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Muammar Gaddafi and his regime need to recognise their rule has come to an end,” American president Barack Obama said in a statement this morning.

“Gaddafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya.

“He needs to relinquish power once and for all.”

British prime minister David Cameron, who along with president Obama and French president Nicolas Sarkozy has led the western efforts to oust the dictator, has returned from holiday to led the British response.

A meeting of the National Security Council on Libya is set for this morning.

On Sunday Downing Street said in a statement “the end is near” for Libyan leader Gaddafi as rebel fighters launched a final push for victory.