Bab al-Aziziya, the nerve centre of Col Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, has long been a symbol of the Libyan leader’s defiance.
The sprawling presidential compound in central Tripoli houses Col Gaddafi’s private quarters as well as military barracks and other installations.
At its heart is the shell of his former residence, partially destroyed by American laser-guided “smart” bombs in 1986.
Col Gaddafi claimed that his adopted baby daughter Hanna had been killed in the attack, ordered by former US President Ronald Reagan. The Libyans had been accused of the bombing of a West Berlin discotheque in which two American GIs were killed.
The building has not been rebuilt and has been renamed House of Resistance. In front of it stands a giant, gold, clenched fist crushing an American plane.
In the past few months, the iconic building has formed the backdrop for Col Gaddafi’s televised addresses, as it did in 2001 when the Libyan leader spoke out angrily against the Lockerbie verdict.