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Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Pounding Homs 

Gunfire and "Allah Akbar (God is Great) in the Bab al Dreib section of Homs in Syria on Monday:

See also Egypt Feature: The Military's Hidden Role in the Economy
Monday's Egypt, Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) LiveBlog: An Activist is Freed

1955 GMT: One of the conditions of the Arab League observers was supposed to be the withdrawal of tanks from the cities they were visiting. Well, those appear to the the observers, that is absolutely a tank, and this appears to be Baba Amr, Homs:

1927 GMT: An activist describes this video, reportedly taken today in Hama:

Demonstrators in the al-Baroudiyeh neighborhood, trying to reach Assi square, and in the video they [gather] behind buildings because of the presence of snipers; among the chants - "we don't bow down except to God," and, "oh Homs, we are with you till death."

The video matches other reports that we have received (see videos below):

1918 GMT: While we have been busy collecting and corroborating eyewitness reports from across Syria, Al Jazeera has posted video showing protesters speaking to Arab League observers. Though their latest report (below) makes no mention of continued violence in the city, and beyond, in an earlier report Al Jazeera says that Arab League observers did overhear gunfire during the visit:

1908 GMT: Zilal, a reliable activist with sources in Damascus, reports that this protest left the al-Dakkak mosque (MAP) in the important Midan district of Damascus:

1903 GMT: Another video from Hama, where tear gas was used to disperse the protests, and live fire was reportedly used against those who refused to leave. What sounds like almost constant gunfire can be heard in the background of the video:

1843 GMT: A large night protest in Zamalka, a suburb of Damascus which is rapidly becoming a hotbed of dissent:

1811 GMT: This video was taken in the central Mazraa district of Damascus tonight:

The LCCS is also reporting protests, and gunfire, in the Qadam district and the suburb of Harasta. Add these videos and reports to the last entry, and the deaths reported on the campus of the University of Damascus, and there is growing evidence of growing unrest in and around the capital city.

1750 GMT: The video of the day.

This video, given to EA directly by an activist, was reportedly taken this night. The building in the background? The Baath Party Headquarters in Damascus. The chant - "the people want the execution of the President!"

1742 GMT: Another video from Homs - this appears to fit between the video we posted at 1455 GMT and the one we posted at 1536, and shows members of the Syrian security forces firing tear gas, and then a shot gun, in the direction of the cameramen outside Clock Square in Homs:

1734 GMT: James Miller here, back from a holiday break to find that the situation in Homs, Syria, is worse than we originally thought. According to LCCS, 35 have died nationwide, "including two children,14 martyrs in Homs, three martyrs in each of Damascus University,four martyrs in each of Daraa and Damascus Suburbs "Harasta ,Douma ,Saqba and Kisweh" three martyrs in each of Idlib and Hama ,two martyrs in of Deir Ezzor and martyr in each of , Saraqeb and Latakia."

A few things can be glossed from these figures. The largest bulk of the deaths were in Homs, 14, a sadly "typical" number for the last several months, and a clear sign that, despite the presence of international observers, the regime is still threatened by protests, threatened enough to shoot.

An interesting parallel comes to mind. In July, US Ambassador Robert Ford visited the city of Hama, which was under attack. At the middle stage of the crisis, the regime did not disrupt his visit or attack civilians. In August, UN inspectors toured many cities, and though there was violence after the convoys left some areas, the regime still allowed thousands of people to mob the convoys and speak to the UN inspectors.

Though we are at an early stage, and not all the information is known, this appears to be different. So far, at least in Homs, it is apparent that the regime is so threatened by the idea that the Arab League observers might speak to the citizens of Homs that they did not wait for the observers to leave the city before they opened fire on civilians.

Beyond the deaths in Homs, the deaths at Damascus university and the Damascus suburbs suggest that the "Assad stronghold," the capital, is more a facade than ever. The deaths in Idlib and Lattakia confirm that, once again, the areas most visible to SAyria's northern neighbor, Turkey, continue to be areas of conflict and unrest.

1543 GMT: This video shows protesters in the Bab Houd district, in the very center of Homs (Map of Homs), chanting "Where are the commission's observers?"

1536 GMT: According to activists, these videos were taken as protesters arrived at Clock Square (also called Freedom Square). The first video appears to be the second half of a video we posted earlier (1455 GMT), and shows teargas, and the second video appears to show live gunfire:

1511 GMT: A series of clashes have also reportedly occurred in Hama, Syria, as Arab League observers were also expected at that city today. It is unclear whether the observers had arrived, or witnessed the incidents. However, activists report that thousands of protesters took to the streets, only to find snipers on the roof of the Baath party heaquarters, and a heavy security presence:

Soon, tear gas was fired as the crowds refused to disperse:

In the Baroudi district (which we believe is here), live ammo was reportedly used against the protesters. Though we don't have a translation for the interview with this protester, the background sound tells his story:

According to the LCCS, 25 people have been killed today nationwide, "seven martyrs in Homs, three martyrs in each of Damascus University,four martyrs in each of Daraa and Damascus Suburbs "Harasta ,Douma ,Saqba and Kisweh" three martyrs in Hama ,two martyrs in each of Deir Ezzor and a martyr in each of Idlib and Latakia."

If anyone expected calm while the Arab League observers were in town, it appears their expectations did not come true.

1500 GMT: The New York Times summarises the debate within the Obama Administration over the reception of Yemen's President Saleh:

The Obama administration has decided in principle to allow the embattled president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to enter the United States for medical treatment, subject to certain assurances, two administration officials said Monday.

But those conditions — including a proposed itinerary — have not yet been submitted to the American Embassy in Yemen, these officials said, and no visa has yet been issued to Mr. Saleh.

The decision of whether to admit Yemen’s longtime leader has stirred a vigorous debate within the administration, with some officials fearing sharp criticism for appearing to provide a safe haven for a reviled Arab figure accused of responsibility for the death of hundreds of antigovernment protesters.

The complex negotiations over Mr. Saleh’s visa request attest to the high stakes for the administration, which urgently wants to secure room for political progress in Yemen but does not want to allow Mr. Saleh to use a medical visit as a way to shore up his political position. Nor do they want to play into Mr. Saleh’s penchant for keeping people off kilter.

1455 GMT: Claimed footage of Syrian security forces in centre of Homs today:

A rally in Halfaya in Hama Province in sympathy with besieged areas:

1415 GMT: Thousands of people march in Ibb in Yemen for a youth slain when security forces fired on the LifeMarch after it arrived in the capital Sana'a on Saturday:

1355 GMT: Activists have told Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya that marchers who attempted to reach Clock Square in the centre of Homs have been fired upon by security forces and forced to turn back.

The sources for Al Arabiya claimed 70,000 people were trying to reach the Square, which has been closed for months because of its symbolic status. Another activist says the march has returned to Khalidiya, where tens of thousands gathered this morning.

1347 GMT: Samira Ibrahim gives the victory sign on Qasr el Nil Bridge near Tahrir Square in Cairo. Earlier today, an administrative court, in a case brought by Ibrahim, ordered a halt to virginity tests on female detainees in military courts:

1341 GMT: A rally in the Bab Amro section in Homs in Syria, sending a message to the Arab League observers who are in the city but did not visited the besieged neighbourhood today:

1326 GMT: More images of protests and clashes in Bahrain last night --- a march in Sanabis and Karzakan and youths facing security forces in Aldair:

1317 GMT: A video of residents of the Bab Amr section of Homs pleading with Arab League observers to visit the shelled neighbourhood:

A funeral march heads for the Khalidiya section, where tens of thousands of people are already protesting:

1249 GMT: The large crowd in the Khalidiya section of Homs, conservatively estimated at 20,000, calls for the execution of Syrian President Assad:

1224 GMT: Activists say at least 20,000 protesters gathered in Homs today as Arab League monitors started their tour of the Syrian city.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the group was gathering in Khalidiya, one of the four areas of the city where there has been widespread bloodshed amidst shelling by regime tanks.

1218 GMT: An Egyptian court has ordered a halt to virginity tests on female detainees in military prisons.

The ruling came in a case filed by Samira Ibrahim, who said the army forced her to undergo a test in March after she was arrested during a protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

1210 GMT: A gunman killed at least one student and wounded four others, one critically, at Damascus University.

Syrian state media said the motive for the assault, during exams at the biomedical faculty, was personal. Activists said the gunman was a regime loyalist, and the Local Coordination Committees, added, "Security forces are storming all the units in the dorms and they broke the doors and windows. Security reinforcements entered the dorms, snipers also deployed on the roof."

1050 GMT: Journalist Mona Eltahawy, who was beaten and detained by Egyptian security forces as they overran Cairo's Tahrir Square on 23 November, has written about the experience, despite a broken left arm and right wrist:

The Mubarak regime used systematic sexual violence against female activists and journalists, and here's the SCAF upholding that ignoble legacy. But to quote the women in Tahrir this week: "The women of Egypt are a red line." My body, and mind, belong to me. That's the gem at the heart of the revolution. And until I return to Egypt in January, healed once again, I will tell that to the SCAF over and over. One finger at a time.

1030 GMT: Syria's Dunia TV has reported that Arab League observers have met with the Governor of Homs Province before touring the city of Homs, besieged by regime forces with the deaths of scores of residents in recent days.

Claimed video of tanks being re-positioned in the Bab Amro section of Homs as the observers arrive:

0950 GMT: Syrian activists and an Arab official have told journalists that regime tanks have withdrawn from Homs before today's visit of Arab League observers.

Opposition activist Mohammed Saleh said the heavy bombardment of Homs stopped Tuesday morning as tanks withdrew. Another Homs-based activist said he saw armored vehicles leaving on a highway to the city of Palmyra to the east, while yet another told Al Jazeera English's Zeina Khodr that tanks were pulling back to the coastal area near Tartus.

In Cairo, an official at the Arab League's operations room said the Sudanese head of the mission to Syria, Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, was leading a team of at least 12 observers to Homs today.

0930 GMT: Dismissed workers have marched this morning to the Ministry of Labour in Bahrain, proclaiming, "We Will Be Back With Dignity".

Activists say more than 2500 employees have been fired for political reasons since the beginning of protestsin February. The regime has acknowledged more than 1600 dismissals and said 380 civil servants wil be reinstated from 1 January.

The son of a sacked employee holds a sign, "Where is the humanity? For how long they will continue starving us?":

0820 GMT: Protests took place throughout Bahrain on Monday night, some confronted by security forces with tear gas --- footage from Alma'ameer:

A march in Duraz calls for the downfall of the regime:

0720 GMT: Some news media are headlining this morning on the arrival of 50 Arab League observers in Syria, with groups going to Homs, Damascus, Hama, and Idlib today.

We will stick, however, with the story of the pounding of Homs, a city of 800,000 people, by regime forces. Activists reported that at least 33 people were killed in Homs on Tuesday, amidst at least 45 who died across the country. Video, some of it too graphic to post on Monday's LiveBlog, testified to shelling by tanks and heavy artillery of sections such as Bab Amro.

One resident said simply, "What is happening is a slaughter."

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