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Syria, Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: How Serious is This?

2045 GMT: Reuters reports that French warplanes have destroyed five Libyan jets and two helicopters at Misurata airport.

2035 GMT: Video from Misurata in Libya of residents surrounding regime tanks:

2010 GMT: Syria's official news agency SANA has claimed that several people who were arrested by security forces during current protests are foreigners. One allegedly has US citizenship and is of Egyptian descent: “[The arrested man] admitted that he had secretly visited Israel and confessed to being funded from abroad in exchange for sending photos and videos about [the current events in] Syria.”

1700 GMT: Amidst clashes between protesters and security forces in Latakia, including the burning of a police station and offices of the Baath Party (see 1602 GMT), a Syrian official claims two people were killed and two wounded by unidentified snipers.

An eye-witness has a different version, as he says at least three people were shot dead by unidentified gunmen:

We rallied in front of Al Sultan mosque and started to march, peacefully, to another mosque. At the time we reached there we were met by live fire. Many were injured, three people were dead.

Live ammunition was fired indiscriminately. There were thugs or plain-clothed members of the police who where were firing on the protesters.

Any person in the street is fired upon, even if he is going to the grocery. I am in my home now and I still hear gunfire outside. We are receiving reports that all the exit-points of Latakia are completely sealed-off by security forces.

1650 GMT: Footage of the scenes at a Tripoli hotel (see 1555 GMT) as Iman al-Obeidi tried to tell foreign journalists how she was raped and abused by regime forces, before she was taken away by security guards and plainclothes agents pushed back the reporters.

1645 GMT: A Yemeni activist casts doubt on the story that President Ali Abdullah Saleh is soon stepping down: "The Yemeni president is NOT leaving in 2 hours, the statement was taken out of context from a long Alarabiya interview.

1625 GMT: A witness says Syrian security forces have fired tear gas on serveral hundred protesters staging a sit-in in the main square of Daraa.

1620 GMT: Libyan insurgents claim they have taken control of tncoil town of Brega 800km (500 miles) east of Tripoli, soon after re-capturing Ajdabiya to the east.

Al Jazeera English's report on the celebrations as the opposition reclaimed Ajdabiya:

1605 GMT: Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said he is ready to give up power with respect and honour within two hours.

1602 GMT: An activist claims protesters and regime forces have clashed in the coastal city of Latakia, with demonstrators setting fire to the offices of the ruling Baath party.

Presidential advisor Bouthaina Shaaban said that an "armed group''has occupied the roofs of some buildings, shooting randomly at citizens: "There is a project to sow strife in Syria."

1600 GMT: A doctor from Syria has said up to 30 people in Daraa and 20 in Sanamein were killed on Friday.

1555 GMT: Back from a break to find lots of chatter about an incident in the Tripoli hotel hosting most of the foreign journalists.

A distressed Libyan woman, Iman al-Obeidi, slipped into the hotel and pleaded for help, showing bruises and scars she said had been inflicted on her by regime forces. She said the troops detained her at a checkpoint in the Libyan capital and raped her.

As reporters gathered to hear the story, security guards grabbed al-Obeidi and attempted to hood her before bundling her into a car and driving her away. Plainclothes security shoved and fought with reporters who tried to intervene and film the incident.

1310 GMT: An opposition spokesman in Libya updates by telephone on the fighting in and around Misurata, Libya's third-largest city: "The allied planes are in the sky above Misurata and they have bombed locations of the [Qaddafi] forces in the outskirts. The [Qaddafi artillery] shelling of Misrata has eased. There was heavy shelling earlier."

1245 GMT: Residents says thousands of mourners in Tafas, a village near the flashpoint of Daraa, in southern Syria have burned a police station and the building of the ruling Baath Party.

Hundreds of mourners are reportedly protesting at funerals of protest victims in Daraa.

An Al Jazeera English correspondent in Yemen says talks between the regime and opposition about a transitional Government (see 1000 GMT) have reached an impasse.

1205 GMT: Activists say security forces stormed a protest sit-in near the capital Damascus, arresting about 200 people in the midnight raid.

1135 GMT: A resident in the war-torn city of Misurata, 210 km (130 miles) east of Tripoli, say regime forces control the eastern and western entrances and have put snipers on rooftops in the city centre.

Syria Feature: 20 Things You Need to Know (Whitaker)
Egypt Analysis: Losing Human Rights in the Transition (El Amrani)
Syria Video: Claimed Footage of Friday's Protests
Libya Snapshot: Why the US Intervened "Up to 100,000 Could Be Massacred"
The US & the Uprisings: Playing Chess, Playing Go --- Human Rights v. National Security
Friday's Syria, Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: NATO Comes to the Rescue?

1055 GMT: AFP reports that the Syrian regime has freed 260 political prisoners.

1030 GMT: Al Jazeera reports that opposition fighters have captured the entire town of Ajdabiya and parts of the road west to Brega. The Al Jazeera reporter says the road is littered with corpses.

1025 GMT: Buthaina Shaaban, a senior advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, political advisor, said today that Damascus is ready to discuss any demand as long as it serves the country’s interests.

Shaaban, speaking to Al-Hayat newspaper, declared, “Carrying out the promises [made to the Syrian people] began on Friday evening. Next week more decisions will be implemented.”

On Thursday, Shaaban announced that the regime would study the possibility of lifting the emergency law and licensing political parties, but the move failed to check Friday's protests.

1005 GMT: The Bahraini Ministry of Education has suspended the scholarships of 40 of its 400 students studying abroad after they called for the downfall of the ruling family.

Dr Nabeel Al Assoomi, director of Public Relations and Media at the ministry, said the students had failed to meet the terms of the scholarships as they "committed serious illegal and unconstitutional violations....The ministry has granted those students scholarships, costing thousands of Bahraini dinars, according to special conditions among which are good conduct and commitment not to harm the country abroad in any way."

1000 GMT: Abubakr al-Qirbi, the Yemeni Foreign Minister, has suggested that a deal on a transition of power could imminent: "I hope it will be today, before tomorrow."

President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been in talks with General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, his long-time ally who defected to the opposition last week, about an arrangement under which both men would step down and give way to a transitional Government. Al-Qirbi said, "I think the time period is something that can be negotiated. It shouldn't be really an obstacle to reach an agreement."

0830 GMT: Several media outlets are reporting the capture of the town of Ajdabiya, fought over for more than week, by the opposition.

AFP reports that insurgents entered the town, the next "stepping stone" west of the opposition's centre of Benghazi, tooting car horns and firing into the air in celebration, some shouting "God is great".

0615 GMT: A report by David Kirkpatrick of The New York Times from Tajoura, an eastern suburb of Libyan capital Tripoli:

Two men, speaking anonymously for their safety, said that during Friday Prayer last week about 200 armed militiamen entered the mosque and prayed alongside them, a clear and intimidating message not to join protests after the services.

“Lots of people have been detained, including some of our relatives,” one of the men said. “They tell people, ‘We will only release your relatives if you don’t protest next Friday.’ ”

“People are very scared these days,” he continued. “They are watching from everywhere. They have people on the rooftops.”

Like many others in Tajura, the two men said that they believed their neighborhood was under the control of a private militia loyal to Mansour Dou, a wealthy Libyan businessman close to the Qaddafi family who they said lives in the area.

Many white Toyota pickup trucks — the preferred vehicle of the Qaddafi militia — could be seen cruising the streets full of armed men, and a police wagon with men carrying machine guns was parked at an intersection leading downtown. Nearby gunshots were heard during the interviews.

0555 GMT: The situation in Syria took away the headlines from its counterpart in Libya on Friday. 

Protests spread throughout Syria after Friday Prayers, even reaching Hama, the site of a 1982 massace in which 17,000 to 40,000 people were killed amidst protest against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad's father Hafez. The serious development occurred, however, in Daraa --- where rolling demonstrations began more than a week ago --- and nearby Sanamein. At least 24 people were slain as security forces fired indiscriminately (see separate video).

Beyond the killings, which will produce more funerals and occasions for mass protests, footage testified to thousands in town after town, reaching the point of tearing down posters of the President and his father. All of this followed supposed concessions by the regime on Thursday to stave off further demands for reform.

In Libya, coalition warplanes struck the regime's armoured vehicles near the embattled city of Misurata, 210 km (130 miles) east of Tripoli, and three explosions in Tajoura, the eastern suburb of the capital, set a military site on fire. There was a brief report that the opposition had gotten inside the eastern gate of Ajdabiya, the town in east Libya that has twice changed hands during the conflict, but there is no follow-up confirmation this morning.

The Washington Post claims, from US and European officials, that the US and its coalition partners are considering the supply of arms to the insurgents. France is actively supporting training and arming the opposition, and  spokesman Jay Carney said the Obama administration believes the United Nations resolution that authorized international intervention in Libya has the “flexibility” to allow such assistance, “if we thought that were the right way to go”.

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