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Libya, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Urban Battles

1842 GMT: Two Reuters television journalists --- producer Ayat Basma and cameraman Ezzat Baltaji --- have been missing in Syria since Saturday night, when they were due to return to Lebanon.

1840 GMT: The opposition advance continued across north-central Libya this afternoon as insurgents re-claimed Bin Jawad. AFP said about 100 fighters danced and fired into the air in celebration in the town centre, singing: "Muammar, you're a dog --- we marched straight into Bin Jawad."

Bin Jawad was the far point of the opposition advance this month before the regime pushed back over the last three weeks, but the insurgents say they have surpassed this, taking the next town along the coast, Nufilia, only 100km (60 miles) from Sirte, a regime stronghold and birthplace of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, 370km (230 miles) east of Tripoli.

Al Jazeera reports that two loud explosions, presumably from airstrikes, have been heard in Sirte tonight.

A witness is reporting at least six explosions heard in Tripoli.

Earlier, French warplanes led air strikes on armoured vehicles and on a large ammunition depot near Misurata and Zintan, cities in west Libya that have been fought over for days by the opposition and regime.

1830 GMT: A NATO official has told Reuters that the organisation has agreed, after days of manoeuvres, to implement all aspects of the United Nations resolution on a no-fly zone and measures to protect civilians in Libya.

1555 GMT: Buthaina Shaaban, an advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, talking to Al Jazeera English (see also 1105 GMT) -- she explains that Friday's violence in Sanamein, which reportedly at least 20 (Shaaban says 10), was due to "10 people" attacking a police station and firing at military guards. She promises an investigation and says that the 1963 Emergency Law will be lifted:

1545 GMT: Bahrain's largest Shi'ite opposition group Wafaq has said that Kuwait will act as a mediator in an attempt to end the political crisis, welcoming the intervention.

Jasim Husain, a member of Wafaq, said Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah had offered to mediate between Bahrain's Sunni al-Khalifa monarchy and opposition groups: "We welcome the idea of bringing in an outside element."

1315 GMT: Syria's official news agency SANA, from an official source, reports clashes in Latakia "resulted in the martyrdom of 10 security forces and civilians and the killing of two of the armed elements." The source said 200 people, most from the security forces, were wounded.

The pro-Government Al-Watan has confirmed that Syrian forces are now in the city: "The army entered Latakia to put an end to the destruction and the murders."

1105 GMT: Interviewed by Al Jazeera English, Buthaina Shaaban, an advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said, "The people's demands are legitimate. They will be addressed by the government." She indicated that the 1963 Emergency Law will be lifted, although she did not indicate when.

Activists and eyewitnesses say Syrian army units have deployed in key areas of Latakia, where at least three people were killed in clashes on Saturday amidst protests.

1045 GMT: France's BFM TV is reporting that opposition forces, moving quickly across north-central Libya, have re-taken the oil port of Ras Lanuf.

Libyan Map from 7 March 2011

1035 GMT: Protesting crowds in Yemen respond to the news that President Ali Abdullah Saleh might be stepping down --- the report later turned out to be incorrected, as Saleh's words in an interview were taken out of context:

1020 GMT: Libyan State TV has reported that regime strongholds of Sabha and Muammar Qaddafi's birthplace of Sirte were bombed overnight.

0900 GMT: An Al Jazeera correspondent says opposition forces have moved west after taking Brega in north-central Libya, reaching the outskirts of Uqayla.

0855 GMT: A doctor in Misurata says the attacks on the city overnight have been amongst the most fierce since the start of the conflict: "Gaddafi troops are using new tactics to avoid being hit, they are using civilians and buildings as shields to hide their tanks. The troops are using civilian vehicles instead of tanks, using live machine guns instead of artillery. Once we hear the sounds of [coalition] aircraft they stop attacking, because they are hiding. But once the planes go they start bombing again."

0820 GMT: Josh Landis, who runs the site Syria Comment, posted this evaluation yesterday:

Syria is dividing into sides --– those that will fight the state and those that support the president or fear revolution. The silent majority is still sitting on the side lines, but they will not be able to do so for long if order collapses. The army is sticking by the President, a main difference with Egypt or Tunisia. So long as the army remains united and obeys the President, it will be hard for the opposition to take over parts of the country or bring down the regime.

There were pro-Bashar demonstrations in many cities yesterday, such as Hassake, Homs, Latakia, Damascus in several places, and Aleppo, but there were equally anti-government demonstrations in a number of places, which are now increasingly calling for an end to the Baath Party and the fall of the regime – isqat al-nizaam. I have spoken or corresponded with people in Latakia, Aleppo and Damascus today. Aleppo and Damascus are calm. Latakia is not. The Republican Guard and the army have entered the city to end violence. The people were cheering them on from the balconies in the Sunni neighborhood, I am told.

0810 GMT: Al Jazeera English reports on "tens of thousands" of pro-regime demonstrators in Damascus early this morning:

0745 GMT: The New York Times reports on the Syrian regime's detention of Egyptian-American engineer Muhammed Radwan and its attempt to put him at the centre of a "foreign plot" behind protests.

State TV broadcast Radwan's “confession”, claiming that "he visited Israel in secret and confessed to receiving money from abroad in exchange for sending photos and videos about Syria”. The report also claimed that “a Spanish-speaking person from Columbia” had contacted Mr. Radwan and offered to pay him 100 Egyptian pounds (about $16) in return for photographs and video.

One of Mr. Radwan’s cousins in Egypt, Nora Shalaby, said the Syrian report is “all lies. He has never been to Israel, and he does not speak Spanish”.

Radwan had updated on his Twitter feed (@battutta) on Friday that he was observing a protest at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.

Another American, Tik Root, a Vermont university student studying Arabic in Damascus, was arrested by the regime on 18 March in the Umayyad Mosque.

0640 GMT: A report and extensive footage of Saturday's incident when a Libyan woman, Iman al-Obeidi, entered a Tripoli hotel to tell foreign journalists of her rape and abuse by regime forces. She was dragged away by security guards, as plainclothes agents clashed with journalists.

0610 GMT: In Libya, the opposition made notable advances on Saturday, finally taking back Ajdabiya after several days of fighting and apparently moving quickly west to the oil port of Brega. That march is a replay of the early stages of the conflict, when the insurgents advanced across north-central Libya --- the next towns beyond Brega are Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad.

The opposition lost those towns in early March. The difference now is that the insurgents, while suffering from an initial lack of organisation and firepower versus the regime forces, have coalition air cover.

An Australian reporter is already looking beyond this scenario, "Coalition hitting targets on Rd from Ajdabiyah to Sirte today. Rebel fighter told me Sirte may be their toughest battle --- [Libyan leader Muammar] Qaddafi's home town."

At the same time, there is a key battle going on around Misurata, Libya's third-largest city. Because it is in the west of Libya, Misurata is a more difficult proposition for the oppostion to hold on the ground. There is evidence that this might be the test of how far the coalition will go in aiding the insurgency --- on Saturday, French warplanes took out five regime jets and two helicopters near the city, adding these to armoured vehicles destroyed earlier in the week.

In Syria, protests and clashes continued on Saturday, albeit not quite at Friday's widespread level. News is fragmented, but Saturday's flashpoint --- in reports and video --- appeared to be the coastal city of Latakia, where at least three people were killed by gunfire.

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