See also Bahrain Video: Amid Protests and Tear Gas, "It is Essential That We Speak Out" br>
Syria Video and Document: 74 Commanders and Officials Named For "Shoot to Kill" Orders br>
Wednesday's LiveBlog: Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: An Armed Insurgency Builds
2329 GMT: Two important visual pieces of evidence from Bahrain. The first, too graphic to post here, is a picture of the body of young Ali Al Qassab, who was reportedly killed earlier when he was run over. Activists claim he was run over by a police jeep, the government tells a different story.
The second piece of evidence is a video, reportedly taken today, that claims to show a police jeep accelerating towards a group of protesters who are near the side of the road. We've seen many videos like these in the past, and have already posted another video that shows a near-miss between a police vehicle and a pedestrian (see video at 1918):
2234 GMT: Today was Bahrain National Day. Google commemorated the day by displaying, on Bahraini internet users' Google homepages, this image, a Bahraini man diving for pearls while wearing a flag around his waist. We could analyze this image, in light of recent unrest and the destruction of Pearl Roundabout, for hours:
The Syrian National Council, which has brought together dissidents from inside and outside Syria, had recognized Al-Leeqa as one of its components.
Imadi told reporters that Al-Leeqa supported the Free Syrian Army, a grouping of army deserters that has taken up arms against the forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, "as long as it protects civilians and the peaceful revolution in Syria."
At the same time, the Syrian National Council, which has also recently formalized its relationship with the Free Syrian Army, has established offices in Istanbul, Turkey. According to SNC leaders, one of the main goals of the group is to work with the international community to increase pressure on the Assad regime in order to topple it:
The chief agenda for the Council at the moment is to gain legitimacy in the international community as the representative of the Syrian people. Ultimately, the Council hopes that foreign governments will act on such recognition through humanitarian aid and military intervention.
"After the Arab League decided to pressure Bashar al-Assad's regime with sanctions, pressure from the rest of the international community has started to dwindle," Hodja said. "The people of Syria want concrete steps to be taken. At this point, expecting reforms from a government led by a man that is in the mindset of Gaddafi is pointless."
As part of the plan for gaining international support, the SNC and other opposition leaders have begun to work on post-Assad planning. As part of that plan, U.S. State Department’s special coordinator on Middle East affairs, Frederic Hof, has suggested that immunity for Assad and other regime members is on the table if it increases the possiblity that the regime will fall:
Hof, who urged the opposition to come up with a feasible plan for running the country post-Assad, said that the opposition told the administration it hopes to present the regime, including Assad, with a way out of Syria that would prevent further bloodshed. Hof said that plan might include a “distasteful price” in immunizing regime elements from prosecution, “but if it gets this clique out of country before it takes the country down, is it a price worth paying? It is not for us to decide,” he said.
What was most interesting about Hof's latest statements, however, is that he reiterated that the Obama administration is not seeking military intervention in Syria, but then he established that he believed there was no way for the Assad regime to continue, an apparent contradiction:
“No one, least of all the U.S., is seeking to militarize the situation," he added.
“The Syrian regime is like a dead man walking,” he said, adding that there is no question whether the man will die, because he will die.
2200 GMT: This video was reportedly taken today in Hama, Syria. These soldiers appear totally calm, but are shooting almost randomly at nearby buildings. At times, a constant roar of gunfire can be heard:
2149 GMT: Canada became the first western country to order a voluntary evacuation of all Canadian nationals from Syria. The Canadian government also threatened that it may close its embassies "without notice" if the conditions on the ground continue to deteriorate.
Foreign Minister John Baird urged Canadian in Syria to leave the country "by any available means and while options exist."
"Today we are declaring a voluntary evacuation of all Canadians in Syria," the minister said. "The time to leave Syria is now."
Human Rights Watch has called on Bahrain to immediately release hundreds of people wrongfully convicted and void all verdicts against persons convicted of speech-related offenses, including leading opposition activists like Ibrahim Sharif, Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, and Abdul Wahhab Hussein.
2058 GMT: WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC VIDEO -
This video reportedly shows several bodies discovered in the Ghouta district of Homs, Syria. The bodies appear to show signs of severe abuse. There is no way for EA to independently corroborate this video:
2029 GMT: We've now seen videos on Zainab's arrest from nearly every angle. This clip, however, the best yet, clearly shows the police abusing Zainab after the is handcuffed. She is hit, her face is pushed, and she is not properly carried:
Damascus Suburbs: Basema: The leading figure in the Socialist Union Party Ahmad Maatoq (Jamal Al-Farmaly) was kidnapped yesterday by security forces from Al-Mowasat Hospital, which he was transported to after he was shot last Ramadan by a security barricade at the municipality, where he was kidnapped by Air Force Intelligence in the area, despite his bad health.
Also, according to the LCCS, 13 people died today, " including a female child, 4 martyrs in both Homs and Daraa, two martyrs in Idlib, and a martyrs in each of Damascus Suburbs, Hassakeh, and Hama."
1918 GMT: So, the Bahraini government and the Bahraini activists both admit that a 21 or 22 year old man, Ali Al Qassab, was killed today when he was hit by a car. Already, however, the argument of exactly how he was killed has started.
The Ministry of Interior posted that he was killed in a car crash when he was hit on the highway. This is an unusual report. After all, many people die every day in a country of over 1 million people, and the Ministry of Interior comments on very few of them, so the fact that they are putting out an official statement is highly suspect.
Furthermore, as pointed out earlier, the reports of the death seemed to spring up on pro-regime twitter accounts, suggesting that it was leaked to them before the information is public. Some of those accounts now have a different narrative, that Ali committed suicide by throwing himself in front of police jeeps.
Either way, this video shows women jumping out of the way of police jeeps that appear to be willing to run pedestrians over. Tear gas pops can be heard at the tail-end of the video. According to one of EA's sources in Bahrain, this was taken today in the village of Mugaba:
1854 GMT: James Miller takes the liveblog, and a big thanks to EA's newest correspondent, John Horne, for helping out.
Just in case there are any skeptics that activist Zainab Alkhawaja was the woman arrested in the pictures and videos that we have posted thus far, this is the clearest picture yet that shows her face:
1755 GMT: Maryam Alkhawaja reports on twitter that Zainab Alkhawaja "is now being transferred to the public prosecution". Mariam Al Sarraj has been released and is now back home. Mariam writes: "Thank you all for tweeting -so tired replay to you later -first let me pray."
1740 GMT: Claimed footage of the tear-gassing of a Bahrain cafe --- earlier we posted the eyewitness reports of journalist Lauren Bohn, photojournalist Adam Ellick, and an EA correspondent (see 1616 and 1634 GMT):
1735 GMT: The U.S. State Department’s special coordinator on Middle East affairs, Frederic Hof, has told a Congressional hearing that the Syrian opposition might have a plan guarnteeing political asylum to President Assad if he steps down.
Hof said the plan might have the “distasteful price” of immunity from prosecution for regime figures, “but if it gets this clique out of country before it takes the country down, is it a price worth paying? It is not for us to decide.”
Hof rejected calls from some legislators to arm the opposition: “No one, least of all the U.S., is seeking to militarize the situation," but he assured, “The Syrian regime is like a dead man walking.” He claimed that Assad had turned Syria into “Pyongyang on the Levant", with the targeting of protesters and dissident.
1730 GMT: A judge representing the Public Prosecutor’s office has agreed to release 27 out of 28 detainees in connection with the 9 October clashes in Cairo in which 31 people were killed when the military and police attacked protesters.
Prominent blogger and activist Alaa Abd El Fattah remains behind bars, however, and all 28 people still face charges.
Abd-El Fattah was not released because he filed a separate appeal when the case was in the military's State Security Court.
Abd-El Fattah has been in prison since 30 October. The order for a 15-day detention was renewed for the fourth time on Tuesday.
1706 GMT: An activist in Bahrain posts this video, reportedly showing a young man in Duraz being arrested today:
Perhaps even more significantly, we have moved a clear picture of the arrest of Zainab Alkhawaja to the top of this entry.
The arrest of two women on charges of [inciting] the crowd... one of them attacked the integrity of one of the females from the public security in the vicinity of Abu Saiba
1650 GMT: Activists are reporting that a protester was run over by a police jeep and killed in Bahrain earlier today. Pro-regime Twitter accounts had earlier reported a traffic jam when a pedestrian was reportedly hit in a traffic accident.
Since the earlier rumors, several activist groups, including 14 February Television and 14 February Media, are also reporting the death. An EA activist in Bahrain reports that his name is Ali Al Qassab from Abu Saiba village. This picture is reportedly Ali:
I Just got tear gassed at coffee shop. Cops fired directly at 15 guys sipping coffee outside None were protesting.
Journalist Dr Ala'a Shehabi posts this photo:
Tear gas attack on Costa coffee country mall on @laurenbohn was directly shot at #occupybudaiyast #bahrain
Shehabi also writes that people inside the coffee shop sealed the shop with tape so that the tear gas would not come in.
1624 GMT: This video was reportedly taken in Abu Saib earlier today, and matches other pictures of the roundabout where activist Zainab Alkhawaja was arrested. Several activists have suggested that the woman standing in the tear gas cloud in Zainab, but this has not been confirmed:
1616 GMT: An EA correspondent in Bahrain has spoken to eyewitnesses who saw the police fire tear gas directly at a journalist in front of the Country Mall in Bahrain:
We went to a cafe on the same road were it was suppose to be occupied, a Journalist Lauren [Bohn] was taking a pic for a group of girls. Police came and tear gassed the place, shooting at the Journalist.
She shouted back, "I am a Journalist," but they didn't give a shit and continued shooting!!!
This account matches Lauren Bohn's:
En route to #OccupyBudaiyaST. My BBM is blowing up with uncomfirmed reports of arrests from activists.
Tripped ovr Tgas canister entring #Bahrain mall where they're playing Mariah Carey's "All I want 4 xmas is u" http://lockerz.com/s/165052487
#Bahrain riot plice fire rounds of teargas, guarding entrance to Country Mall. Has become nightly routine. lockerz.com/s/165056791
.aellick and I just directly shot at with teargas outside of Country Mall in #Bahrain
1540 GMT: There are reports of a heavy military presence in several towns in Daraa province. This video was reportedly taken in Bousr al Hariri:
This video shows a heavy tank presence moving into the Hamidiya district in Hama. The video below it reportedly shows the heavy damage from reported tank shelling of the neighborhood, not the only one we've seen today:
A general strike in Homs continues for the fifth day:
One of the most articulate advocates of democracy in my video from Bahrain today is Zainab al-Khawaja. In flawless English, she argues passionately that our ally Bahrain is repressive and an embarrassment to American values. Today, the government apparently proved her point. Hours after the video appeared, it detained her as she was standing peacefully in a protest. Zainab is 28, a fan of Gandhi, a single mom of a 4-year-old daughter since her husband is in prison. Her father and husband have already been tortured, and I'm praying the same won't happen to her.
1521 GMT: We will continue to monitor developments in Bahrain, but Syria has also seen significant developments.
The LCCS reports that 8 more "martyrs" have been killed today, "4 martyrs in Daraa including three defected soldiers, two martyrs in Idlib, a martyr in Homs and a martyr in Zabadany in Damascus Suburbs."
The LCCS also posts this video, reportedly showing a new military presence in Zamalka, Damascus:
1514 GMT: This video reportedly shows the arrest of activist Zainab Alkhawaja in a roundabout in Abu Saiba, today. It matches pictures we saw earlier:This video was reportedly taken today in Abu Saiba village, Bahrain, reportedly showing the police "attacking" protesters:
1506 GMT: An EA correspondent in Bahrain reports:
According to an eye witness I just talked too, "Zainab went and sat in the middle of one of the roundabouts... raising victory signs with her hands. That's when a sound grenade was fired near her. She refused to move, then she was pepper-sprayed. She still refused to move, until female police officers handcuffed her and dragged her out."
Also, this picture reportedly shows Zainab on the ground as they arrest her. It appears to be the same roundabout, though her face cannot be seen:
1452 GMT: More breaking news from Bahrain. This video was just uploaded to Youtube and reportedly shows protesters running from police. At the end of the video, police jeeps can be seen racing through the side streets. Activists have, in the past, reported that police jeeps have been used to run over protesters, and EA has collected several videos that show such activity. There are not yet any reports of injuries today, however:
1442 GMT: Multiple activists are reporting that prominent Bahraini protester Zainab Alkhawaja (@angryarabiya) has been arrested. Earlier, she was participating in a protest in a major roundabout, where she was tweeting the latest developments. She has not sent a tweet in over an hour, and there is no mention of her arrest on her timeline.
This photo, according to one source, shows her arrest:
Uncut - The Index on Censorship, has posted this press release:
Bahraini activist Zainab Al-Khawaja has been arrested today while protesting on Budaiya street, according to local reports. Shortly before being arrested, Al-Khawaja, who tweets from the account @angryarabiya, tweeted a message saying, “Sitting in a roundabout on budaiya street, shouting down down Hamad. Until now riot police don’t seem to know what to so.” Her sister, Maryam Al-Khawaja, who also works for the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights confirmed her arrest to Index. More updates to come.
Activists say that this was taken before Zainab's arrest:
This picture, which is harder to confirm, reportedly shows Zainab among tear gas before she was arrested. Earlier, we did have reports that the protests in the roundabout were disrupted by tear gas:
1425 GMT: The LCCS has released a report that 5,216 "martyrs," civilians or defected soldiers, have been killed by the Syrian military or security forces. They have broken that number down by geography, broken down by governorates:
Damascus Suburbs: 407
Deir Ezzor: 172
They have also released their own figures on military and children who have died:
The number of military martyrs, who were killed as a result of their defection from the army, is 968 martyrs. The number of child martyrs was 356, 289 of whom were boys and 67 of whom were girls.
There are several striking arguments being made here. First of all, counting military deaths (how and where the soldiers died is mentioned or broken down in the report), the overall death toll is over 6,000. The report also mentions "tens of thousands" of detainees and missing persons, many of whom may be dead already.
Another important thing to note - While the Homs governorate has paid the highest price, and the city of Homs has been host to arguably the most drastic violence, the Hama, Daraa, and Idlib provinces have also paid an extremely steep price. While there is a drop-off after these, the Damascus suburbs have paid a shockingly high cost, and 14 regions have seen civilian fatalities, according to the report.
Some areas are paying a higher price than others, but, according to this and other reports, all regions are paying a steep price, and the rate of civilian, and military, casualties is escalating exponentially as this conflict drags on.
James Miller takes the liveblog.
1325 GMT: The British Government is continuing its push that All is Getting Well in Bahrain. Following the King's Monday visit with Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt --- in Bahrain on Tuesday and Wednesday --- praises the "strong base" laid by the King to implement the "unprecedented" report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. Burt claims that this view is almost "universally shared" by Bahrainis across the political spectrum and proclaims that Britain will offer "expertise" to assist the monarchy and the Bahraini people.
Some protesters who have retreated to village are blocking the roads with flowers and chanting, "We block roads with flowers to prevent you from running over us."
1215 GMT: A mass rally in Taiz in Yemen today:
1055 GMT: The head of Libya's National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, has put out a series of assurances today. Amidst protests this week in Benghazi and Tripoli challenging the NTC, he said demands of the protesters would be considered and looked at seriously by a special committee, while a media committee would update the public about the activities of the NTC and its members.
1045 GMT: Video of the two women, complete with tea set, who launched the occupation of Budaiya Highway in Bahrain's capital Manama this morning.
The official start of the gathering is 2 p.m. (1100 GMT) --- an EA correspondent reports: "Big number of police are gathering, standing at the entrances of villages that lead to the highway. Seems they won't allow people to occupy. Let's see."
0855 GMT: Activists claim that defectors have killed at least 27 Syrian soldiers and security forces in clashes today in Daraa Province in the south.
0805 GMT: The Bahraini regime's attempt to woo New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof, a fervent first-hand critic of the crackdown on protesters in February/March, has backfired. Kristof was allowed back into the country last week to get the "real" story, but he and his photographer were briefly detained --- "for their protection", authorities later tried to claim --- as security forces tried to disperse a protest.
Kristof pulls no punches in his column this morning:
Nothing like getting pulled into a police car to glimpse, through a haze of tear gas, hints of a police state.
The royal family in this American ally of Bahrain deserves immense credit for turning a desert island in the Persian Gulf into a modern banking center. The rulers have educated Bahrainis, built a large English-speaking middle class, empowered women and fostered such moderation that the ambassador to Washington is a woman from Bahrain’s tiny Jewish community.
Yet our pals here also represent a brutal, family-run dictatorship, and few countries crushed the Arab Spring so decisively as Bahrain. The regime helpfully displayed this darker side a few days ago when riot police attacked the video journalist accompanying me and detained both of us.
Kristof has also filed a video report, which we have posted as a separate feature.
0745 GMT: In Bahrain, activists have called for the occupation today of Budaiya Highway in the capital Manama:
A march in Mehaza last night calls for the release of detainees, especially women:
0735 GMT: The conflict in Syria is now so protracted and so complicated that it is sometimes easier just to repeat a daily slogan, as Al Jazeera English does this morning with its headline --- which could have been on many days since 15 March --- "Escalating Violence Leaves Many Dead".
Behind that routine description is a newer, complex story. Of the more than 25 people who were slain on Wednesday, at least 13 died in Hama Province in a series of incidents. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, regime troops killed five occupants of a car. In response, defecting soldiers ambushed a convoy of four military jeeps, leaving at least eight soldiers dead.
The incidents follow another show of force by insurgents on Tuesday, when seven regime troops were killed in Idlib Province in the northwest. The prospect is thus of an armed insurgency, which now has the resources and ability to carry out operations in part of Syria, both to disrupt the regime's military and in claimed defence of the population.
A demonstration last night in the Damascus suburb of Barzeh:
Gunfire interrupts a protest in Taiz in Yemen today