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Tunisia, Libya, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Election, Liberation, Protest

Footage of the shelling of Homs, Syria's third-largest city, on Sunday

See also Yemen 1st-Hand: The Field Hospital Inside the Mosque
Syria Interview: Opposition Activist Louay Hussein "Our Priority is a Made-in-Syria Solution"
Libya Feature: The Last Days of Muammar Qaddafi
Syria Video Essay: The Military Assault on Homs
Sunday's Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Where It Is Not Over

2023 GMT: According to NTC officials, Muammar Qaddafi and his son Muatassim will be buried in a secret location, with Muslim clerics present, likely sometime tomorrow.

2010 GMT: A very large crowd in Dael, Daraa, forms a human "SOS," a call for help:

2005 GMT: Mare, Aleppo:

2003 GMT: The ancient city of Palmyra, Syria, in protest tonight:

1958 GMT: A very large crowd gathered in Tal Rifaat, Aleppo (MAP), chanting, "Come on, Bahsar, leave!"

1951 GMT: A reported protest in Qurayyah, south of Damascus (MAP):

1939 GMT: Now Lebanon, citing Al Jazeera, is reporting that 15 people have been killed today in Syria.

1935 GMT: Activists are reporting protests in Anadan, a large suburb of Aleppo, Syria (MAP):

1912 GMT: Earlier, EA's Scott Lucas found this video, reportedly a student protest in the Damascus suburb of Saqba. Saqba has been a hotspot of unrest, and has been the focus of a Syrian military crackdown for the last week and a half:

But a few moments ago we saw a unique tweet from an activist who is in Damascus:

Live stream was suppose to take place today in #Saqba was cancelled due to information of security forces on the way to the #Damascus suburb

Now, the activist reports that the security crackdown may have started on the opposite side of the capital (MAP):

Security forces have just stormed some areas in #Madamiyah and surrounded the Rawda st. prevent demonstrations from taking place #Damascus

Meanwhile, there are demonstrations in other important suburbs, like Daraya:

And Zamalka:

1907 GMT: While the focus in Syria has, understandably, been on the Homs, the LCCS reports omninous signs in two other regions tonight:

Daraa: Electricity cut off from villages of Khayl and Teeba following protests by residents in support of besieged villages

Hama: Kafar Zeita: Gunfire and tear gas bombs used against protesters

1842 GMT: The lawyers representing the medics being tried in Bahrain has released a statement responding the the public prosecutions statement. First, the statement notes that the prosecution has dropped 3 charges, all of them misdemeanors, from the complaint. What's interesting is that the 3 dropped charges appear to be the political charges: inciting hatred against the regime, publicly broadcasting false news, and inciting unlawful action.

The remaining charges, however, are all felonies: Occupying a public hospital, possessing unlicensed arms, blocking public servants from performing their duties... and promoting the overthrow of the government.

Secondly, the lawyers note that the prosecution will not rely on "confessions" made by the medics. This is proof, according to the lawyers, that the confesions were coerced. This would eliminate the ability for the prosecution to use material from the previous military trials.

The third note in the statement says that the prosecution has vowed to submit new evidence. The lawyers for the medics argue that this means that the old evidence was insufficiant to prove their clients guilty.

The rest of the statement seemed to focus on the previous military tribunal. The entire statement can be read here.

1826 GMT: The Tunisian election results are beginning to come in, and as predicted it appears that a moderate Islamic party will take the majority, or nearly the majority, of the seats. Al Jazeera reports on the results of the seats reserved for those living abroad:

To summarise the results the ISIE has announced so far, then, al Nahda has taken half of the 18 seats reserved for Tunisians living abroad.

Four of the seats have gone to the leftist Ettakatol party and three to the Congress Party for the Republic.

1814 GMT: Sucking up to the UN? The Bahraini Foreign Affairs Minister, Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, released a statement today that praised the United Nations for its support of Bahrain, while praising the Bahraini government for meeting many of its Millennium Development Goals, and reasserting the need for cooperation so that Bahrain might continue to improve.

Beyond buttering up the UN, the statement is yet another sign that the Bahraini government is attempting to make the argument, in the public and international domains, that it is attempting to reform, modernize, and cooperate. Unlike Syria, or Iran, the Bahraini government seems to think that it can escape international criticism by making subtle acknowledgement of some of it's faults, even if the government is continuing to sugar coat, deny, or "investigate" the worst accusations being made against it.

1802 GMT: Despite the daily artillery and gunfire assaults from the Syrian government, the people of the Bab Sbaa (Lion's Gate) district of Homs, Syria, protest, celebrate, and pray this evening:

1745 GMT: Finally picking up a story that we have been covering since Friday, the Associated Press publishes this video, an amalgamation of Youtube footage from yesterday's bombardment of Homs, Syria:

1540 GMT: This video reportedly shows the damage to buildings in the Bab Sbaa neighborhood of Homs, after the Syrian military conducted yet another major shelling campaign today:

1536 GMT: The Local Coordinating Committees of Syria have listed the names of 5 people killed today in Homs, and has reported the death of an unnamed child, on their Facebook page. All 6 reports have been posted in the last 30 minutes.

1514 GMT: The Ain News Agency, an opposition network in Yemen, is also reporting a major outbreak of violence today:

The fall of the shell on (Alwhdah) Unity School for Girls in Almsbah which led to the burning of main Office there !

And the bombing of the house of Sadek Sarhan a leader of the First Armored Division in the neighborhood of Almsbah with three artillery shells

Now a powerful explosion in Wadi Alqadi behind the company of Jalb and the columns of smoke rising and hear the screech of children and women

This video starts out with images of the wounded, victims of today's shelling in Taiz, then quickly moves to scenes of burning buildings:

Reportedly a building the Zaid Almuchki neighborhood in Taiz, today:

1505 GMT: This video reportedly shows the Abdelrahman Bin Aouf mosque in Homs after it has been shelled multiple times:

1451 GMT: An activist in Syria posts this GRAPHIC VIDEO and reports heacy shelling of the Hula (AKA Hooleh, Hawle) neighborhood in Homs, Syria. Another activist reports the same, and shares this video, reportedly showing buildings on fire in the neighborhood:

Also, this video had just been uploaded, reportedly showing buisnesses on fire after government shelling in the Deir Balba district of Homs:

1357 GMT: Of course, things would be less confusing if Al Jazeera stopped re-writing liveblog posts that were hours old. Now Al Jazeera has replaced their earlier post with this:

Mark Toner, the US state department spokesman, said that Ambassador Robert Ford returned to Washington from Damascus after "credible threats against his personal safety.''

Toner couldn't say when Ford might go back to Syria, saying it depended on a US "assessment of Syrian regime-led incitement and the security situation on the ground.''

1306 GMT: James Miller takes the liveblog for a spin. Thank you to Scott Lucas for taking us through the morning.

And already there is some confusion over a story we posted earlier. While many media outlets are reporting that US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, is withdrawing (a major loss, in James's estimation), Al Jazeera is reporting that Ford will return in November:

The US Embassy in Damascus told Al Jazeera that media reports about the withdrawal of its ambassador to Syria are incorrect.

The Embassy said that Robert Ford is travelling in the US and will be back to Damascus by mid-November

1250 GMT: Yemen's President Saleh has welcomed a UN Security Council resolution calling on him to adopt a plan for transition of power, according to the State news agency SABA.

In the spring, Saleh stepped away at the last minute on three occasions from signing the plan, brokered by the Gulf Co-operation Council countries.

SABA reported, "The Yemeni president...expressed his readiness to sit down immediately at the dialogue table with the (opposition) Joint Meeting Parties and its partners to complete the dialogue over the operational mechanism for the (Gulf) initiative as quickly as possible and to reach the final signing of the initiative and its immediate implementation, leading to early presidential elections on a date agreed upon by all."

1120 GMT: In a pointed signal that it sees no future in the Assad regime, the US has withdrawn Ambassador Robert Ford from Syria.

Officially, Washington is citing "security concerns". Ford was criticised by regime supporters when he visited Hama in July and met opposition figures. He later went to a town in Daraa Province in the south and, with other ambassadors, paid respects at the funeral of opposition figure Ghiyath Matar, who alleged died from abuse in detention.

A diplomat said Ford had left Saturday after an increase in hostility in state media.

1000 GMT: Major General Ismael Etman، a member of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), has denied that the army interfered with or censored the media, after prominent TV journalist Yosry Fouda suspended his programme because an interview with a regime critic was blocked (see 0515 GMT).

Etman urged Fouda to resume the public affairs programme, Akher Kalam. Fouda, who cited “relentless censorship efforts" for the suspension, responded on Twitter, "I still need some answers.”

0950 GMT: Thousands of Moroccans maintained the ritual of Sunday protest, calling for a boycott of next month's Parliamentary elections.

About 3000 people protested in the capital Rabat and another 8000 in Casablanca, the kingdom's largest city, contending that meaningful reforms will not come through King Mohammed VI's amendments to the Constitution.

0810 GMT: The BBC's Wyre Davies posts this photo of families searching for relatives amidst rows of bodies in Sirte, the last holdout of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi:

Human Rights Watch has expressed concern that 53 people, apparently supporters of Qaddafi, were executed at a hotel in Sirte last week, calling on the National Transitional Council to conduct an immediate and transparent investigation and to bring those responsible to justice.

The badly decomposed remains of the 53 people were found on Sunday at the Hotel Mahari. The bodies were clustered together, apparently where they had been killed, on the grass in the sea-view garden of the hotel. NTC fighters from Misurata had held the area around the hotel since early October.

The condition of the bodies suggests the victims were killed between 14 and 19 October . The bloodstains on the grass directly below the bodies, bullet holes visible in the ground, and the spent cartridges of AK-47 and FN-1 rifles scattered around the site strongly suggest that some, if not all of the people, were shot and killed in the location where they were discovered.

All the bodies were in a similar stage of decomposition, suggesting they were killed at the same approximate time. Some of the bodies had their hands tied behind their backs with plastic ties. Others had bandages over serious wounds, suggesting they had been treated for other injuries prior to their deaths.

0610 GMT: After Saturday's "Arrows of Dignity" protest, the 14 February opposition group has announced a new initiative, "Dignity Bank".

Beginning today, people are encouraged to target banks who have fired employees who participated in the protests in February and March, withdrawing all their cash and putting them in alternative accounts.

A Twitter account and video set out the instructions, with images for targeted and alternative banks.

0540 GMT: Another video from the Bahraini opposition's "Arrows of Dignity" protest, blocking roads throughout the kingdom....

When a police vehicle tries to prevent a roadblock near Karbabad, youths respond with pink paintballs:

0515 GMT: In Egypt, the 6 April Youth Movement has announced its full support for prominent TV presenter Yosri Fouda, who suspended his show “Akher Kalam” (The Last Word) indefinitely after apparent interference by the ruling military council.

“The freedom of the media is the core of the freedom of speech, which is a basic right that no one has the right to deprive the people of,” the 6 April statement declared. “We resentfully followed what happened to the great media man Yosri Fouda....The military council tried to impose strict censorship on his programme. Out of our belief in the great Egyptian revolution that called for freedom and human dignity, the 6 April Youth Movement hereby announces its full support for Yosri Fouda and its refusal of what the military council has been doing to deter the freedom of others.”

Fouda was due to interview Alaa El-Aswany, a critic of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces on Thursday, a day after he featured two Egyptian army generals, Mahmoud Hegazy and Mohamed El-Assar, on the programme.

Thursday’s episode was abruptly cancelled. Fouda refrained from directly accusing any party of imposing restrictions, but said he could not bear “an obligatory censorship.”

0500 GMT: Election, Liberation, Protest...and Some Propaganda. Bahraini activist "Chanadbh" takes apart a State TV broadcast about violent protesters and exposes it as a likely set-up to discredit the opposition: "It appears that this whole segment was staged by the government, and that those supposed anti-government "protesters" may not actually be protesters at all."

Chanadbh also notes, "In response to the BTV video, some real protesters have made their own video explaining clearly what their demands are, while another group has made a parody video."

0445 GMT: A rush of developments on Sunday reflecting the different stages of the risings against regimes in North Africa and the Middle East....

In Tunisia, the first election after the fall of President Ben Ali in January proceeded smoothly while exceeding expectations of participation. Last night the Secretary-General of the Election Commission said, "Out of the 4.1 million people registered, more than 90 percent voted." 

In Libya, tens of thousands of people celebrated Liberation Day in Benghazi, singing the national anthem and waving the national flag from before 1969, when former ruler Muammar Qaddafi had taken power. There was a loud flutter among observers about the speech by the head of the National Transitional Council, Musfata Abdul Jalil, because of a line asserting that the country would be guided by Sharia law, but that was countered by those noting that the electoral, political, and legal process, not Jalil's rhetoric, would shape the new Libya. And it was more than countered by the scenes of jubilation in Benghazi and elsewhere.

In Syria, the challenge to President Assad continues. Two of the overnight videos we noted --- first, a crowd in Dael in the south sings, "If you had any manners, you'd leave, Assad."

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