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Syria, Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: A Slowing of News

2120 GMT: After restrictions and attacks on its staff, Al Jazeera has suspended its operations inside Syria indefinitely.

Syrian authorities have expelled Cal Perry, a correspondent for Al Jazeera English in Damascus, and prevented reporters from entering the town of Daraa in the south. Authorities also told staff "not to communicate with Al Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, and not to appear on air to present the news from the bureau, even if by telephone", producer Hassan Elmogummer Taha told the Committee to Protect Journalists in an e-mail.

For the past three days, unknown assailants have pelted Al-Jazeera's Damascus bureau with eggs and stones. Men in plainclothes have harassed and intimidated employees since then, Taha told CPJ.

2010 GMT: Authorities in Saudi Arabia have detained two Shi'ite bloggers this week for taking part in demonstrations in the Eastern Province, a Shi'ite website and activists have said.

The Shi'ite website,, said police had arrested Mustafa al-Mubarak, 26, and Hussein al-Hashem, 25, in raids on their houses, confiscating their computers.

An activist said, "The series of arrests are still continuing today. Even ordinary people have been detained for taking part in demonstrations. They are summoned while at work or taken from their homes." He said at least 10 people have been seized this week.

A Human Rights Watch report issued this month said Saudi Arabia had arrested over 160 activists since February.

2000 GMT: The 15-nation UN Security Council has failed to agree on a statement condemning the killing of Syrian protesters, according to diplomats.

1950 GMT: An update on today's protests and clashes in Yemen (see 1245 GMT)....

At least nine protesters have been killed in the capital Sanaa after security forces opened fire on a demonstration demanding the immediate removal of President Saleh, and troops reportedly shot dead three protesters and wounded others in Aden.

Anti-regime demonstrators in at least 18 cities and towns across the country launched a civil disobedience campaign on Wednesday, objecting to a plan which would give Saleh 30 days to resign.

A photo of an ambulance shot up as it tried to carry wounded:

1940 GMT: In Syria, 233 members of President Assad's Ba'ath Party have now resigned. In a text to AFP today, 203 members from the Houran region in the south, which includes the flashpoint town of Daraa, declared, "The security services have demolished the values ​​on which we grew up. We denounce and condemn everything that happened and have no regrets in announcing our withdrawal from the party."

Earlier, 30 members from Baniyas in northwest Syria quit.

1930 GMT: Back from a break to find that US officials are saying the death toll in Libya since the uprising began 17 February could be as high as 30,000.

The US Ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, said Washington has concluded that the opposition National Transitional Council is a political body that deserves US support, but it has not yet decided whether to recognise the group formally.

An opposition spokesman has said that regime forces started firing mortars at a district in the west of the opposition-held city of Misurata.

Regime fire had been concentrated on the port area in the east of the city.

1410 GMT: A resident of Baniyas on the Syrian coast puts out a message to the "international community":

1340 GMT: An opposition spokesman has said that regime forces fired Grad rockets today into the centre of the insurgent-held town of Zintan: "There was intense bombardment this morning. Around 15 Grad rockets landed in the town centre, two of them landed where I'm standing now."

The spokesman said five houses were destroyed. No one was killed, but some children were slightly wounded.

1245 GMT: In Yemen, tens of thousands of protesters have blocked road access to the port of Hodeida, as they demonstrated against the Gulf Cooperation Council's plan for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to transfer power.

The protesters object to the plan, agreed provisionally by the President and the main opposition group, because it gives Saleh 30 days to resign and it grants immunity from prosecution for him and his family. They chanted, "The people want a departure, not an initiative."

Clashes flared in Aden in south Yemen between anti-regime protesters who blocked roads with burning tires and security forces, killing one protester and two soldiers, hospital and local officials said.

The clashes erupted when young protesters tried to enforce a general strike that closed most businesses and schools. Strikes were also under way in Taiz and in Ibb, south of the capital. A doctor in Aden told Reuters one protester died and three were in critical condition from gunshot wounds.

Activists said that the two slain soldiers were not shot by demonstrators but by "armed men [who] are not part of the peaceful protesters".

1240 GMT: Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor writes from the western mountains of Libya: "The picture now emerging is that of a heavily outgunned militia –-- perhaps better organized than the rag-tag rebels in the east –-- that has leveraged local knowledge, international support, and deep-seated anger at Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi into unlikely victories."

1230 GMT: In Libya, the port of Misurata in the west was quiet on Wednesday after fierce bombardment during the previous day by regime forces.

An Albanian ship, the Red Star 1, chartered by the International Organisation of Migration, arrived at the port with ten shipping containers of aid and two ambulances. The ship also evacuated refugees from Misurata, which has been under siege for two months.

1228 GMT: French writer Bernard-Henri Levy has released a statement by chiefs or representatives of 61 tribes from across Libya calling for an end to Muammar Gaddafi's rule:

Faced with the threats weighing on the unity of our country, faced with the manoeuvres and propaganda of the dictator and his family, we solemnly declare: Nothing will divide us. We share the same ideal of a free, democratic and united Libya.

The Libya of tomorrow, once the dictator has gone, will be a united Libya, with Tripoli as its capital and where we will at last be free to build a civil society according to our own wishes....We form, we the Libyans, a single and united tribe - the tribe of free Libyans, battling against oppression and the wicked genie of division

1225 GMT: Back from a break to find the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that it has the names of at least 453 civilians killed since the uprising begaon 15 March.

1105 GMT: Reuters is reporting, from a witness, that at least 30 Syrian army tanks have moved from Damascus to Daraa in the south. Claimed footage:

1015 GMT: An e-mail exchange between a Bahraini woman and Egyptian Professor Mustafa Kamel Al-Sayyid on the BBC (14:25 mark in the programme):

Bahraini Woman: Today Bahrain looks like a ghost country. The Authorities have launched a revenge campaign. State-run Bahrain television conducts inquisitions on air to be followed by arrests or dismissals, including star footballers, journalists, surgeons –-- no one is spared the brutality of the regime.

Your revolution has inspired my people in Bahrain and even Pearl Roundabout was chosen because Bahrainis wanted to have their own Tahrir Square.

But I know there are many differences between Bahrain and Egypt. I wish to ask whether you have achieved your goals for democracy and a more dignified life? Will the military in Egypt allow a true democracy? Are you now a free nation, a free people –-- as free as a bird?”

Al-Sayyid: Yes we have achieved some of our goals. The authoritarian regime has been overthrown. Its leaders are in prison and will be put on trial soon. According to the transnational timetable, set by the military, there will be elections this autumn. But in some respects the outcome of the revolution in Egypt in the short term is a mixed bag. Violence has flared up in some parts of the country. The economy has been hit by a recession and the security situation in parts of the country is a cause for concern.

But my advice to you would be to continue to protest. The situation will not change unless you continue your resistance. I hope your collective resistance in Bahrain will bear fruit.

Woman: Dear Professor, it’s not possible at present to protest as the military units and security forces will have no mercy on people. In Egypt the military forces are made up of patriotic citizens who responded to the revolution as brothers. In Bahrain the army is mainly made up of people recruited outside the country. They don’t share any feelings with the people of Bahrain. Bahrain is suffering and the world powers are silent about it. In fact I see double standards when I see how the West talks and acts toward Libya, while doing nothing about the deteriorating situation in Bahrain. Who will help us?

Al-Sayyid: What you need to do is get together with people who share the same ideas about democracy and Human Rights as you. And try to keep informing the world of the situation in Bahrain.

0945 GMT: The head of Bahrain's civil service, Ahmad bin Zayed al-Zayed, has denied firing employees since the uprising began in February: "Up to now, no one has been dismissed for disciplinary reasons."

Bahraini opposition groups and rights organizations say hundreds of public employees have been removed on the grounds that they took part in protests.

0935 GMT: Obama Administration and allied officials are telling journalists that NATO plans to step up attacks on the palaces, headquarters, and communications centres of the Libyan regime.

While denying they were trying to assassinate Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, alliance officials said the best hope of forcing him to flee was to cut off his ability to command his most loyal troops.

A "senior NATO diplomat" said, “We don’t want to kill him or make a martyr out of him in the Arab world. But if he sees the bombing happening all around him, we think it could change his calculus.”

0930 GMT: Mattar Ibrahim Mattar, a former MPO for Wefaq, Bahrain's leading opposition group, tells Al Jazeera that not only medical staff but also their relatives are now being arrested by Bahraini security forces.

Earlier this month a report by Physicians for Human Rights documented more than 40 medical staff who are detained or missing.

0840 GMT: Habib El Adly, Minister of Interior under former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, pled not guilty on Tuesday to charges that he ordered the shooting of demonstrators during the uprising that toppled the regime.

El Adly and six former aides briefly appeared in a packed Cairo courthouse before the trial was adjourned to 21 May to allow more time for lawyers to prepare.

The former minister is accused of having ordered security forces to fire on demonstrators and is held responsible for insecurity that prevailed after police disappeared from the streets of Cairo in the early days of the protests.

0740 GMT: I may have spoken too soon about a slowing of news from Syria. More claimed footage of Tuesday night demonstrations:

0700 GMT: Claimed video of a demonstration in Homs in Syria last night:

Gunfire on a claimed demonstration on Tuesday in Daraa:

0610 GMT: Reuters confirms from witnesses that hundreds of Syrian troops have occupied the Damascus suburb of Douma. A resident says more than 2,000 security police are manning checkpoints and checking identity cards.

Meanwhile, diplomats say President Assad sent the Fourth Mechanised Division, commanded by his brother Maher, into Daraa on Monday.

0605 GMT: With the centre of Misurata now clear of fighting, Xan Rice of The Guardian profiles the insurgents:

"This is Mr al-Qaida," said Abdulfatah Shaka, 22, a student of refrigeration engineering, Pink Floyd aficionado, tank destroyer and leader of the small rebel cell, pointing to his cousin and classmate Mohamed, 21.

Next he gestured towards Alsallabi, 20, whose university studies have also been interrupted by the revolution in February. "That is the Taliban."

The joke was on Gaddafi, who has blamed the uprising on Islamist terror groups. Everyone laughed: Bashir the seaman, unemployed Ahmed, Abdulmajid the floor tile salesman and Bassam the student. At 23, he was the oldest in the room – until 30-year-old Abdulhamid strolled in after a 10-hour sleep: "My best in two months." In better times he was a chef. "I swapped my spoon for a Kalashnikov," he said.

0540 GMT: News from inside Syria has slowed, probably because of the military crackdown in several towns that had been centres of protest against the Assad regime. Since the claim of activists yesterday morning that hundreds have been arrested in security raids, following the reported deaths of more than 120 people over the weekend, there has been little further information.

The Syrian human rights organisation Sawasiah claimed at least 35 civilians have been killed by security forces since the military entered the southern town of Daraa at dawn on Monday.-

Attention overnight shifted to New York where diplomats staked out positions. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said, "I condemn, utterly, the continuing violence against peaceful demonstrators" and called on the Assad regime "to protect civilians and respect international human rights". US Ambassador Susan Rice repeated that the Obama Administration is considering targeted sanctions. 

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari took a different line:

[Some armed groups] get within the demonstrations and started shooting on the military men and the security forces. This is why there were many casualties....

We have nothing to hide. We regret what's going on, but you should also acknowledge the fact that this unrest and riots in some of their aspects have hidden agendas.

If you demonstrate peacefully, you are protected by the government. If you recur to violence then any government in the world, in order to maintain peace and order, would utilise its forces to stop violence and vandalism and aggression against buildings as well as against innocent civilians.

In Libya, regime forces continue to shell the port of Misurata, Libya's third-largest city. Even though Qaddafi's men have now been expelled from the city centre, the regime wants to prevent the re-supply of the opposition --- and provision for residents --- through the port.

The US Government has eased sanctions to enable US firms to buy oil from the opposition so the insurgents can "use the income from oil sales to purchase weapons and other supplies".

Oil, gas and other petroleum products can now be purchased through Qatar Petroleum or the multinational Vitol Group as long as proceeds do not benefit the Libyan regime.

The first oil tanker from opposition-held Libya is expected to arrive in Singapore on Thursday, transporting 80,000 tonnes of crude oil. The tanker Equator left the east Libyan port of Marsa el Hariga three weeks ago.

The initiative faces serious obstacles, however, as the regime is bombing oil installations along Libya's eastern coast.

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