A large fireball erupts from a burning fuel depot container in Misrata's port July 25, 2011. REUTERS

The search for Colonel Gadhafi might soon be over after an al-Jazeera correspondent said rebels are only 500m from Col Gaddafi's heavily fortified Bab al-Aziziya compound in the centre of Tripoli, but the civilians living in Tripoli are still getting caught up in the conflict.

While the forces fighting for the National Transitional Council entered the capital, Tripoli on Sunday night, Gadhafi has managed to remain in hiding.

His son Saif al-Islam emerged from the streets of the capital yesterday, despite previous reports from the rebel fighters the NTC and the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court that he had been captured, and insisted Col. Gadhafi was still in Tripoli.

With the leader now rumoured to be still be in hiding in his compound, the rebels are determined to find the leader, aware that his capture would be important symbolically and enable them to become more popular among the different factions of the Libyan society.

While 42 years ago Gadhafi called himself a "freedom fighter" after he ousted King Idriss I, the term is now being claimed by the rebels. Also, the NTC is well aware that the transition phase will be difficult, as will establishing control over Libya with the different sects all fighting for influence within the council. Capturing Gadhafi will be similar to brandishing a trophy as the leader has been wanted by many but managed to hang on to power for years.

The difficulty of the situation has been echoed by the head of the NTC, France and Nato.

While the Council's officials have warned several times that the battle is not yet over, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has also warned that "the victory in Libya is not complete", the BBC reported.

"The regime is on the verge of collapse, but there are still pockets of resistance, so we must maintain the pressure," he told French radio Europe 1 also adding that "Nato must still remain on the alert in order to complete this operation."

"The news about Saif al-Islam yesterday was a disappointment - nobody can deny that," also said Hany Hassan Soufrakis, a spokesman for the human rights arm of National Transitional Council in Libya.

The UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, on the other hand, appeared more confident as he insisted it is "only a matter of time" before Colonel Gadhafi's regime in Libya is defeated.

Clegg also attempted to play down the reappearance of the dictator's son Saif Al-Islam noting it is "not the sign of some great comeback for the Gadhafi regime".

"Our assessment is that Free Libya Forces now control much, but not all, of Tripoli," he said.

"Yes, there will be frustrations and setbacks but the remaining remnants of the Gaddafi regime are now cornered.

"It's only a matter of time before they are finally defeated and Libya is completely free."

As the fighting continues, and with fears of a humanitarian crisis rising, the UN has Tuesday called on the Gadhafi forces to give up the fight.

Hassiba Sahraoui, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, told the BBC's News Channel she is very concerned "that civilians are going to be trapped in the fighting... What we've seen since February is a pattern of abuse and violations of international humanitarian law where civilians are indiscriminately targeted, and not protected by either side of the conflict. So these fears are compounded by the current fighting in Tripoli, [with] heavily populated areas, and we don't see any sides to the conflict taking seriously the protection of civilians."