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Syria, Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Clampdown

1910 GMT: Ali Tarhouni, the Minister of Finance of the Libyan opposition's National Transitional Council, says he is meeting with Obama Administration officials to establish a line of credit.

Tarhouni was a University of Washington lecturer until March, when he returned to opposition- held Libya.

1832 GMT: The Bahraini regime has expelled the Reuters correspondent, Frederik Richter, who had been based in the capital Manama since 2008.

Officials said Reuters had lacked balance in its reporting but could name another correspondent for accreditation by the Ministry of Information.

1830 GMT: More claims from Syria....

An activist says a planned march of 2,000 students at Aleppo University was foiled by a raid of the campus by security and intelligence forces.

About 500 women did protest in the coastal town of Baniyas on Monday, despite door-to-door raids and the detention of 1700 people in the city since the weekend, according to Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Abdel Rahman said 22 people were detained in home raids in two Damascus suburbs on Tuesday.

1755 GMT: Video of plainclothes officers breaking up the sit-in protest in the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday night (see 1740 GMT):

1750 GMT: Bouthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Syrian President Assad, has said that Dorothy Parvez, a reporter for Al Jazeera English, left Syria on a Ukrainian Airways flight to Iran on 2 May.

Parvez entered Syria on 29 April. Al Jazeera said she was detained soon after her arrival.

1740 GMT: Thanks to James Miller for carrying the LiveBlog through the afternoon.

The New York Times has posted a series of claims about Syria. Activists say at least 10,000 people have been detained in the last week in the clampdown and occupations by security forces. At least seven people were reportedly killed in demonstrations on Monday night --- three in Maadamiyah, a Damascus suburb, and four in Deir al Zour in northeastern Syria, he said.

Heavy gunfire is claimed today in at least four southern villages: Inkhil, Dael, Jassem, Sanamein and Nawa. Activists report casualties but the cutting of communications has prevented confirmation of numbers.

In Damascus, security forces have reinforced their presence, setting up more checkpoints and sending out more patrols. On Monday night, about 250 people staged a small demonstration in Arnoua Square with banners such as “Stop the siege on our cities,” and “A national dialogue is the solution”. The gathering was quickly dispersed by plainclothes police officers, and 32 people were reportedly detained.

1609 GMT: The Guardian is reporting that a building heavily damaged by a British air strike in Misurata was being used by Gaddafi forced to target the city with Grad rocket, heavy artillery, and heavy machine gun attacks.

1556 GMT: Tunisia has set up an independent electoral body ahead of elections planned for July 24th. The elections will select representatives who will draft a new constitution. However, there is a great deal of doubt as to whether or not the interim government can deliver on this promise by July 24th, as the technical hurdles are high. Any delay in the election could have disasterous repercussions, economically as well as politically.

1539 GMT: Rami Makhlouf, powerful businessman and cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has vowed to fight the protests "to the end." These comments come as the EU has named Makhlouf and 12 others for economic sanctions and a travel ban.

1532 GMT: Lots of change, same old problems - The inflation rate in Egypt has risen to 12%, largely due to the rise in food prices. Mubarak may be gone, but the problems that launched the revolution still exist. 

1516 GMT: More details, courtesy of Voice of America, about recent airstrikes in Tripoli (see report at 0500). An office building, and supposedly a hospital, was damaged by NATO air strikes. Children were reported injured by Libyan officials, though journalists there have yet to verify this detail. As we reported earlier, a telecommunications tower was also hit, as well as a command and control center in Tripoli.

The new details, however, are that a commander and control center and an ammunition depot in Mizdah have been struck, as well as a tank and a command and control facility in the besieged port of Misirata. Rebels are reporting that they have pushed back pro-Gaddafi forces surrounding Misurata, and in the last two days the International Committee of the Red Cross has been able to continue it's aid deliveries to the port.

Weapons depots were also struck near the city of Zintan.  

1504 GMT: A source with family in Daraa and Damascus has shared this video, reportedly showing a home destroyed by government forces in the siege of Daraa.

1458 GMT: A Facebook Page that opposes Syria's government has posted a disturbing story:

"According to employees at the Province of Damascus, they were offered a lump sum of money and batons to attack protesters on Fridays. Some of the employees refused the offer but others accepted in fear of consequences, not for the desire of funds."

There are problems with this report. We have not seen video or pictures of plain-clothed forces, or civilians, beating protesters in Syria. In fact, the only video we have seen that depicts something like this is a video, post on Sunday, that may depict Maher al-Assad (Bashar's brother) firing into a crowd.

We have heard reports of plain-clothed security forces arresting crowds of people, but these reports clearly indicate that these men are police or military, not civilians paid to crack skulls.

We'll keep an eye out, but if you have seen such video please let us know.

1300 GMT: Video of protest last night in Al Bukamal in Syria:

Footage has also been posted of a demonstration in Qatana.

1240 GMT: The European Union has confirmed the recommendation of ministers for sanctions against 13 Syrian officials, including the President's brother Maher al-Assad, the President's cousin and influential businessman Rami Makhlouf, and Ali Mamlouk, head of the General Intelligence Service.

However, as we reported last week, the EU has refrained from naming President Assad directly after objections from several members of the 27-nation bloc.

1120 GMT: Egyptian prosecutors have gone to Sharm El Sheikh International Hospital to begin questioning of former President Hosni Mubarak.

On Monday, Mubarak was remanded in custody for another 15 days.

The former President, who was overthrown on 11 February, has been in the hospital since he suffered a minor heart attack while being questioned on 12 April.

1035 GMT: A sit-in in Yemen today, protesting the violence by security forces which has killed several people and wounded scores of others in Taiz since the weekend.

1030 GMT: Egypt's former Minister of Tourism Zoheir Gharana has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of profiteering.

0845 GMT: Laura Kasinof of The New York Times summarises the "battleground" in Taiz in Yemen on Monday, with medical sources saying four people were killed and 88 wounded by gunfire, 13 critically.

0755 GMT: Bouthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Syrian President Assad, sets out the regime line in an interview with The New York Times.

Shaaban expressed confidence that the uprising had been quelled, "I hope we are witnessing the end of the story. I think now we’ve passed the most dangerous moment. I hope so, I think so.”

The advisor claimed nearly 100 soldiers and members of security forces had been killed by armed militants who were manipulating “the legitimate demands of the people”. She added:


We think these people are a combination of fundamentalists, extremists, smugglers, people who are ex-convicts and are being used to make trouble....You can’t be very nice to people who are leading an armed rebellion, in a sense.


Shaaban claimed that she had started a "national dialogue" with meetings last week with activists Michel Kilo, Aref Dalila, Salim Kheirbek and Louay Hussein, on the prospect of a freer press, political parties and an electoral law. She claimed, “In the next week or so, we will broaden it....We want to use what happened to Syria as an opportunity We see it as an opportunity to try to move forward on many levels, especially the political level.”

The Times team was allowed into Syria for the one-hour interview and had to leave the country afterwards.

0750 GMT: Claimed footage of a Monday demonstration in Daraa in southern Syria:

0740 GMT: Video of the Yemeni military moving through Taiz on Monday:

0615 GMT: Members of the Syrian opposition in exile have said they plan to gather in Cairo this month. Organisers said the conference, developedd with input from opposition and civil-society activists inside Syria, will assemble people from across the political spectrum.

0610 GMT: Video of the Syrian military's deployment in Homs last night:

0500 GMT: The Syrian regime's hold on towns and cities tightened Monday, as President Bashar al-Assad declared,  "The current crisis...will be overcome."

Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said security forces were carrying out house-to-house raids, targeting organisers and participants in protests. The operations focused on Syria's third-largest city of Homs, the coastal town of Baniyas, suburbs of Damascus, and villages around the southern town of Daraa.

At the same time, Syrian authorities stopped a United Nations humanitarian team from visiting Daraa, where hundreds have reportedly been killed since the uprising began on 15 March. Syrian forces occupied the town for 10 days before moving to other trouble spots last week.

In Libya, witnesses said NATO carried out missile strikes in Tripoli this morning, including upon Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's compound and a telecommunications tower.

Libyan officials said four children were wounded, two of them seriously, by flying glass. Foreign journalists were  taken to a government building, housing the High Commission for Children, that had been destroyed. 

On Monday, NATO also bombed regime arms depots four times during the day about 30 kilometres (20 miles) southeast of Zintan, in the northwest of Libya. Opposition sources and State TV said NATO also struck around Tamina and Chantine, east of opposition-held Misurata, 210 km (130 miles) east of Tripoli.

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