Row after row of bodies show true cost of the fight for Tripoli
THE bodies lay partly covered in shrouds of tattered sheets on grey concrete floors deeply stained with blood.
Some of the faces were almost serene, others frozen, mouth open, reflecting the terror of the last moments. In row after grim row lay the terrible human cost behind the battle for Tripoli.
Around 170 bodies have passed through the morgue of the Sher Zawiyah Hospital -- many of them civilians with shrapnel wounds, caught up in the crossfire -- as the regime and rebel forces continue their bitter struggle for control.
Others appear to have been executed, with bullet wounds to the head and handcuff marks on their wrists.
Corpses have been brought to the doorway in pick-up trucks, cars, and the few functioning ambulances.
A double layer of surgical masks were needed to view the corpses, seven in one room, 32 in another, decomposing in the heat.
That is what the bereaved families have to do, some sobbing as they left, clutching each other for comfort.
Hashan Al-Agap had come to collect the remains of his nephew, Mohammed, who had been killed after being arrested by regime forces near Bab al-Aziziya, the fortress of Muammar Gaddafi.
Mr Agap (50) had driven from his home in Misrata to check on relatives in Tripoli. He was travelling with Mohammed and his two sons, Moiz and Mohab.
"Our car was stopped and both Mohab and Mohammed were dragged out with guns to their faces. I tried to stop them, but they threw me back, threatened to shoot me, Moiz held me back, otherwise I would have been killed," he said.
"I had to go away, to try and get help, leave the two boys behind. I was frightened for them, very frightened."
The two young men were beaten and told they would be shot for what happened at Bab al-Aziziya.
During the night, Mohab escaped and phoned his father to tell him what was going on.
Mohammed's body was discovered when the Gaddafi troops abandoned the building.
"These men like killing. These people make us work for year after year for pennies and then they kill us like rabbits, like dogs.
"We have had this for 42 years. We thought all this would now end, but the killings continue, all these lives . . ." Mr Agap's voice faded and he started crying.
Adel Mohammed showed a photograph of his mother, Baia Al-Sophi, 62, shot dead by a sniper on Wednesday when she went out to the balcony of the family home to call for his 13-year-old son to hurry home after a gun battle started.
"We do not know why they shot her, she was just an old lady," said Mr Mohammed.
"Of course, I am very sad about my mother. But do I wish the revolution had not taken place? No, I have thought about this, we have to bear our suffering to free our country so our children, at least, do not have to go through this." (© Independent News Service)