A demonstration last night in the Qosour section of Homs in Syria
2040 GMT: Here's your joke of the day. After New York Times report Nick Kristof was arrested earlier and his photographer beaten and his camera broken in Bahrain, here's what the Bahraini Ministry of Interior has to say about the incident on its Twitter account:
Police Media Director: The Correspondent of the New York Times wasn't arrested and he sought police protection
2030 GMT: The LCCS reports that 40 people have died today in Syria:
7 children 3 women, 4 defected soldiers. The deaths are distributed as follows: 18 in Homs,7 in Idlib,9 in Damascus Suburbs (3 in each of kafarbatna and Domaair 2 in Douma, , 1 in Saqba,) 4 in Hama, and 2 in Daraa (Sanamain and Inkhil
1940 GMT: According to Nick Kristof, his videographer's camera was hit by tear gas or rubber bullets, and the attack only stopped when his cameraman, Adam Ellick,started to yell that he was an American journalist.
For his part, Adam has been pretty quiet since the incident, though his last tweet is pretty telling:
"This photo of graffiti pretty much sums up my night in #Bahrain with @NickKristof"
Among them are 7 children, 2 women, 4 defected soldiers. The deaths are distributed as follows: 18 in Homs, 5 in Idlib, 7 in Damascus Suburbs (3 in Kafarbatnah,2 in Douma, , 1 in each of Domair and Saqba,) 4 in Hama, and 2 in Daraa (Sanamain and Inkhil)
1923 GMT: An EA source in Bahrain sends us this picture, an overhead picture of the large opposition rally. Thousands were in attendance:
Sr cop arrived and let me go. My videographer, @aellick, was in different police car and also freed.
Policeman in my car is cursing protesters. He says twice he has been injured in last 6 months.
He says police are not supposed to beat protesters but says sometimes they have to, to restore order.
Now: more than 6 police cars tear gassing and shooting village of bani jamra
Protest now in Sitra, Bahrain, with large group of men and women demanding freedom and ouster of the king.
#Bahrain protesters now chanting: "kill whomever you want--we will continue to resist."
Riot police just fired tear gas here in Sitra, #Bahrain. Broke protest up.
I was just pulled into police car here in Sitra, #Bahrain, but not sure if I'm being detained or protected.
An officer told me that someone senior is coming to talk to us and then we'll be able to go.
Police seem to think this is awkward, holding me in car while they squelch protest. One very nicely offered me water.
Boy, if I were them, I'd take my Blackberry.
1840 GMT: This video was reportedly taken today in the Khalidiya district of Homs. In case you are wondering, and as the video clearly illustrates, it is not safe to film a military attack on Homs. The cameraman, after an amazingly close call, does appear to be ok. The camera may be a different story:
The security forces attempted to assassin the activist Abo Bilal Al-Homsi, Bab Drieb coordinations representative, and Abo Anas, a singer is the protests, by firing at the car they were riding. That was at Kala'a checkpoint. Abo Bilal was injured with several bullets in his mouth, shoulder and leg and he's in dangerous situation. Anas was injured in his shoulder and leg
The second report is perhaps more troubling, that the Syrian security forces stole the body of a child who was killed today:
Homs: Hawleh: The corpse of child martyr Abdul Majeed Hassan Ezz Edden was kidnapped after storming the funeral demonstration by armored vehicles and heavy shooting on the mourners, which led to the fall of several wounded
We are unable to confirm either story.
1740 GMT: This video was reportedly taken in Kafer Nabel, Idlib province, today. The gunfire matches other reports that we've received, and it did rain this afternoon in Idlib. The cameraman quietly prays for help as, according to the narration, Assad's forces attack the city:
1732 GMT: An activist in Bahrain sends EA this photo, reportedly showing the large crowd at the opposition rally in Muqsha, in southern Bahrain:
A 12-year-old boy was killed in random gunfire by security forces in Kerm Al-Zeyton in Homs.
Just got tear gassed here in Bahrain. Protesters shouting down with king broken up by riot police in Jidhafs.
Some protesters threw Molotov cocktails, which hugely undermines their cause.
Meanwhile, the opposition rally itself seems to be going on right now. An activist points us in the direction of a live feed (in Arabic) of the political speeches.
Video reportedly shows a protest in Baba Sabaa, Homs today. Sounds of gunfire interrupt the chants.
1619 GMT: Another report from Damascus. Southwest of Saqba, closer to the center of Damascus, three people have reportedly been killed by security forces in Kafer Batna, where the gunfire is so intense their bodies remained in the street for quite some time. More details when we have them.
Domair: The child Firas Al-Qadi,14 years old, was killed and reports of many other martyrs and casualties. Mean while the security forces shoots an ambulance to intervene it.
1607 GMT: This video was reportedly taken today in Houle, Homs, where nearly constant shelling can be heard. A military consultant has suggested that the shells being used are anti-personnel weapons, as they explode in the air in order to spread shrapnel to the city below. We've seen similar shells used heavily against the city of Homs.
Aleppo: shabbiha arresting and beating demonstrators in Salah al-Deen district today
1537 GMT: The LCCS is once again raising today's death toll, now reporting that 32 civilians have been killed by Assad loyal security forces and military, "including 7 children, two women and four defected soldiers. The martyrs are disstributed: 18 martyrs in Homs, five martyrs in Idlib, four martyrs in Hama, two martyrs in Daraa (Sanamain and Inkhel), and three martyrs in Damascus Suburbs (Douma, Domair, and Saqba)."
What's most interesting is that the LCCS is now reporting casualties in Saqba, where we reported clashes between the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian military.
1531 GMT: This video was taken outside a mosque in Midan, Damascus (we believe this is the exact location on a map). It shows a heavy security presence, reportedly a response to some small protests in the area. While we don't have details on the actual protest, the video clearly shows a tense situation in the streets:
1512 GMT: Once again, the LCCS has raised the death toll. They are now reporting that 29 have been killed today, "6 children, 2 women, 4 dissendant soldiers; 15 in Homs, 5 in Idlib,4 in Hama, 2 martyrs in Daraa "Sanamen and Inkhel" 2 martyrs in Damascus suburbs "Saqba and Douma."
Perhaps even more interesting, this video from Qaboun claims to show a cameraman working for Syrian State TV, SANA, under the protection of the police. This is not the first example of this that we've seen:
An activist has posted a registration document from Tom Squitieri, a PR consultant who has framed himself as a "media analyst" to post articles on outlets such as The Huffington Post and The Hill. Squitieri identifies himself as a "public affairs professional" whose primary client is "The Kingdom of Bahrain".
So what's new? Previously, we thought that Bahrain had hired Squitieri through the company that he claims to run.
Squitieri identifies himself on the document as an employee of Qorvis Communications, which has also been outed as one of the companies promoting the Bahraini regime through "news" items. So Squitieri is not only far from an independent "media consultant" working with the Bahraini leadership; he has also been hiding his relationship with Qorvis in a pretence at that independence.
We will have much more on this on Saturday.
1455 GMT: Turning back to Syria - We've covered the violence in Homs, and we've reported today's news that the army seems to be preparing for a substantial escalation in the city. How bad are things in the city? An activist posts this photo, a sign held by a protester that sums it all up:
1451 GMT: While the tear gas settles in Bahrain, the police have opened an official probe into allegations of rights abuses that were set out in the Bahrain Independent Commission Inquiry Report:
The order from the interior minister, Lt Gen Sheik Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, follows recommendations by a special inquiry commission that urged authorities to probe allegations of mistreatment.
1447 GMT: An activist shares this video, protesters running from tear gas in Sanabis, near Martyrs Square:
1442 GMT: An opposition rally in Bahrain has reportedly been disrupted by security forces. Earlier, we saw this picture, preparations for the rally. Now, an EA correspondent in Bahrain reports that things have grown violent:
I'm getting news about clashes near the martyrs square (formerly Pearl Roundabout). After a small Ashura procession in Sanabis, people marched to [the square].
Apparently, either as the protesters reached the square or as they gathered nearby, the police confronted the rally with tear gas. We'll try to gather a more complete narrative, but this picture was forwarded to us, showing the teargas clouds.
1423 GMT: We've received several reports of a large security force in Barzeh, a northern suburb of Damascus, where soldiers reportedly "stormed" the neighborhood, establishing checkpoints in the street and conducting some house-to-house arrests.
Now, this video has surfaced, making similar claims:
1417 GMT: The LCCS has raised today's death toll for the second time in an hour. They now report that at least 20 have been killed, "among them 5 children, 2 women, 4 dissendant soldiers; 11 in Homs, 5 in Idlib, 1 in each of Inkhil and Sanamain in Daraa, and 1 in each of Hama and Douma in Damascus Suburbs."
1410 GMT: Multiple EA sources are reporting clashes between the Syrian Free Army and the army loyal to Assad in the Damascus suburb of Saqba, to the east of the center of the capital. This is a heavily populated suburb, and while we don't have an exact location of the fighting, it could be 10-15 kilometers from the center of Damascus.
We'll certainly monitor these reports for signs of an escalation this close to the capital city.
1353 GMT: The LCCS has begun to build a legal case against Syrian President Bashar al Assad and other Syrian officials, collecting and summarizing their evidence that the Syrian regime is guilty of rights violations. Their recent report documents the violence between November 16th and November 30th, a period of time that the LCCS claims has seen a steep escalation of violence.
How many people died during that period of time? 421.
104 martyrs who were killed in clashes after defecting from the Army, or who were executed on the spot for refusing to shoot demonstrators.
25 male children
9 female children
8 adult females
26 of them died under torture
According to the LCCS, by the end of November the death toll stood at "4722 martyrs, including 841 members of the military," and 224 of the civilians were killed under torture.
He said: "The plan was to go an anti-regime demonstration after Friday prayers. But we were stopped by snipers at checkpoints. They were shooting anyone in the streets. So we decided to go to via alleys to avoid the shooting."
He said the heaviest gunfire was in the districts of Khalediya and Bayada.
Omar said three have been killed today including 10-year-old Maher Al-Hussain in Bab Sebaa and 12-year-old Mohammed Nassar. Both were killed by cross fire from snipers he said. A third child was shot in al-Houleh, he said.
He goes on to describe a city in "open revolt." But perhaps one thing stood out as particularly disturbing:
The price of infant formula has gone up 80% since the start of the crisis.
1340 GMT: The Local Coordinating Committees of Syria now report that 15 people have been killed by forces loyal to President Assad, " four children, two women and four defected soldiers, Seven martyrs in Homs, four martyrs in Idlib, two martyrs in Daraa "Sanamain and Inkhel" and a martyr in both Hama, and Douma in Damascus Suburbs."
The LCCS has also raised Thursday's death toll to 20, "11, of them in Homs, five martyrs in Idleb, three were martyred in Harasta in Damascus suburb days ago and their corpse haven’t been handed out to their families yet. in addition to one martyr in Qamchlo."
James Miller takes the liveblog.
1215 GMT: Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has responded to Syrian President Assad's interview on US television, "If [Assad] is now sincere, he will immediately punish the murderers and accept Arab League observers. He still has such an opportunity."
Davutoglu said Assad's remarks were a kind of "confession": "He now accepts that security forces might have made a mistake. I wish he had said this in April."
Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, said the National Transitional Council has suspended a system which granted reporters entry to the country if they had a letter from the NTC's media centre..
A stringer for The Guardian adds, "The NTC press office is closed, more or less permanently."
The deputy head of the Media Centre replied to complaints, "As all know things here are very slow and with the new gov[ernment] still in limbo it is proving problematic to get anywhere. But I will be persistent."
The head of the firm, Lord Bell, has accepted an offer from Wikipedia's founder Jimmy Wales to provide training to his employees over the ethical use of the online encyclopaedia.
Investigations by journalists and bloggers uncovered evidence that Wikipedia entries were being altered to put the Bahraini leadership, amidst the protests against its legitimacy, in a favourable light.
A lobbyist also said there was "great dissatisfaction in senior levels" of Bell Pottinger over the conduct of employees who were secretly recorded speaking to undercover reporters, bragging about access to officials at the highest levels of the British Government and talking about operations in Uzbekistan: "Bell will defend them to the hilt in public, but behind the scenes he’ll be giving them the hairdryer treatment."
Lord Bell might want to have a word with Peter Bingle, the chairman of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs --- he put out the message on Twitter, "I don't really care what hostile journalists and loonies think about us. BPPA remains best in class."
1130 GMT: Three Bahraini girls, aged 11 and 12, will be monitored by a social worker for the next year after being found guilty of taking part in a demonstration inside City Centre Mall in Manama on 23 September.
More than 40 women were detained over the protest. Some of them were photographed on the ground of a parking lot, their hands bound, after they were taken by security forces.
1046 GMT: The Salafist Nour Party, which finished second in Egypt's first round of Parliamentary voting, has declared at a rally that "democracy is heresy" because it contradicts the principle of allegiance after the death of Prophet Mohammed.
Mara Revkin claims that in the 56 individual races, not a single woman was elected.
BikyaMasr reports, however, that Dr. Omayma Kamel, a candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party, has won in Cairo's 4th District.
More than 20 people have been killed in the city in the last week.
The official said a committee was clearing away road blocks set up by Saleh opponents and loyalists during street battles, and overseeing the withdrawal of forces from occupied buildings.
Friday prayers in Taiz today:
“This year we are honoring a courageous journalist who has been the victim of brutal repression by an obsolete government,” Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Jean-François Julliard said. “Ali Farzat fully deserves this award. His cartoons target the abuses of a desperate regime with its back to the wall and encourage Syrians to demand their rights and to express themselves freely.”
Farzat, severely beaten in August, was unable to attend the ceremony. French cartoonist Plantu read a statement on his behalf: “I would have liked to have been with you...to take part in this beautiful event. I dedicate this award to the martyrs, to those who have been injured and to those who struggle for freedom. May thanks be given to all those who have turned the Arab Spring into a victory over darkness and repression.”
0900 GMT: The opposition Syrian National Council has warned of the build-up of thousands of regime forces and loyalist militias around Homs, with its 1.6 million people: "The regime [is] paving the way to commit a massacre in order to extinguish the revolution."
The Council continued, "The regime has tried hard to ignite the sectarian conflict using many dirty methods, which have included bombing and burning mosques, torturing and killing young men, and kidnapping women and children." It also accused the regime of blowing up a major oil pipeline near Homs on Thursday.
0851 GMT: Economist and activist Alaa Shehabi critiques last month's report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry: "The recommendations do not match the scale of the findings in many areas. In addition, there are glaring omissions and redlines that the Commissioners chose not to cross."
Shehabi raises some notable, unanswered questions --- why did the regime reject a US-led attempt in March at brokering a settlement, after the opposition had welcomed it? --- and concludes:
Failing to pursue justice for serious violations during the uprising will mean that the “culture of immunity” will continue, and that the systemic problem will be further entrenched. The commissioners’ role here was to exercise their power to demand the release of prisoners, to incriminate those directly responsible and to suggest tangible steps for reconciliation. They failed on all three counts and this is a breach of their moral and professional duty.
0846 GMT: The New York Times reports from Turkey on tensions between the opposition military and its political leadership:
Soldiers and activists close to the rebel Free Syrian Army, which is orchestrating attacks across the border from inside a refugee camp guarded by the Turkish military, said Thursday that tensions were rising with Syria’s main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, over its insistence that the rebel army limit itself to defensive action. They said the council moved this month to take control of the rebel group’s finances.
“We don’t like their strategy,” said Abdulsatar Maksur, a Syrian who said he was helping to coordinate the Free Syrian Army’s supply network. “They just talk and are interested in politics, while the Assad regime is slaughtering our people.” Repeating a refrain echoed by other army officials interviewed, he added: “We favor more aggressive military action.”...
Earlier this month, the Syrian National Council, and the rebel Free Syrian Army, which is waging an insurgency against the Syrian government, agreed to coordinate their actions. The move followed concerns by some opposition members that the rebel army was undermining the opposition’s commitment to nonviolence by carrying out high-profile attacks and feeding the narrative of the Assad government that it was being besieged by a foreign plot.
Foreign Policy magazine carries a first-hand report from Turkey with the fighters of the FSA.
0839 GMT: Index on Censorship picks up the report that a Twitter account allegedly operated by a former colonel in Bahrain's State Security and Intelligence Service, Adil Felaifel, has been sending threatening messages to Bahraini human rights activists.
The messages, now deleted, were reportedly sent to Mohammed Al-Maskati, President of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, and Yousif Almuhafda of BCHR. One message declared,”Do not think that because I’m not in the Ministry of Interior, I will shut up about you"; another warned, ”Maskati and Nabeel Rajab, your future death and hell.”
Mohamed Saad Katatni, the Secretary General of the FJP, said the military’s expanded mission for the advisory body amounted to “a derogation of the legislative institution and interference in the preparation of the Constituent Assembly which will draft Egypt’s new Constitution".
The FJP won the largest share of the vote in this month's first round of elections for Egypt's new Parliament. However, on Wednesday, a SCAF member said the military would limit the power of a potential Islamist majority in the legislature by giving he new advisory council and the military-led Cabinet major roles in forming a constitutional assembly.
0805 GMT: Reuters posts an analysis claiming the necessity for political reform in Kuwait before forthcoming elections. Amidst allegations of corruption among government officials and last month's brief occupation of the Parliament building, political commentator Ghanem al-Najjar says, "The crisis has been brewing for more than three years, and it largely emanates from bad political management and the inability of the government to implement any programme."
0745 GMT: The death toll in Syria was relatively low on Thursday, with "only" 13 people reportedly killed at the hands of security forces.
There was no shortage of news, however. President Assad's play for international support or at least neutrality, through an interview with America's ABC News, not only fell flat but left itself open to ridicule with his "It Wasn't Me" excuse. A major oil pipeline in Homs Province exploded, with the opposition and the regime accusing each other of responsibility. And, while reports were difficult to obtain, it appears that the residents of Homs are still weathering the daily siege of gunfire.
Meanwhile, this Friday also raises the question of whether widespread protest in Bahrain, which re-appeared on Wednesday, takes further hold with a mass opposition rally. And, nearly always beyond the vision of mainstream media but nearly always making their weekly point, many thousands are likely to be on the streets of Yemen.