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Syria, Yemen, Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The Blood in the Streets

Gunfire erupts as security forces clash with protesters in Yemen on Wednesday

2125 GMT: Witnesses in Oman say soldiers and police have moved into protest camps in the capital of Muscat and the southern city of Salalah, arresting dozens of demonstrators calling for reforms.

The witnesses say there were no serious injuries in the raids.

2040 GMT: Qatar is withdrawing from the Gulf Co-operation Council;s initiative to resolve the Yemen crisis.

"Qatar was forced to take this action because of the stalling in signing the proposed agreement..., the continued escalation, the intensity of the confrontations," the Qatar News Agency reported.

The GCC's proposal stalled almost two weeks ago when President Ali Abdullah Saleh pulled back from an agreement to hand over power within 30 days to his Vice President. The Yemeni opposition said it was to meet the GCC on Saturday, but a regime spokesman downplayed any possibility of an advance in talks.

1930 GMT: Thanks to James Miller for taking the LiveBlog through the afternoon.

Opposition activist Louay al-Husein has said that a senior advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Buthaina Shabaan, has promised that regime forces will not fire on protestors on Friday.

Shabaan said earlier this week that she had begun a "dialogue" with opposition figures, and al-Husein confirmed that he and other opposition leaders had been in talks with the advisor.

1813 GMT: In anti-government protests in Taiz at least 2 people have been killed as security forces fired live ammunition from the rooftop of a ruling part building. Rubber bullets were also used, and a doctor there is reporting that at least 40 have been killed. In al-Bayda, at least 5 were injured in protests there. 

1710 GMT: The economic impact of the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa will also have a significant impact on the stability of the region. Yemen, for instance, is already the poorest state in the region, but in the last month its oil production has been reduced by more than one third

1703 GMT: Voice of America is reporting that dozens have been wounded in fresh conflict in Taiz, Yemen. Below, this picture (courtesy of Reuters) depicts a protester holding up a victory sign today in Taiz.

1658 GMT: James Miller, reporting for duty.

A representative for the Libyan rebels, Mahmoud Jibril and a delegation from the National Transitional Council, will be traveling to the White House to meet with top Obama official, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon. The meeting is to take place on Friday.

1455 GMT: Al Jazeera English summarises today's developments in the Yemeni city of Taiz, as government forces have opened fire at protesters, wounding dozens.

Security forces reportedly used machine guns mounted on military vehicles to fire in the air as demonstrators set up roadblocks along a main street, before protesters were then wounded as clashes escalated.

In the southern city of al-Baydah, security forces shot dead two protesters and wounded seven others, as protesters set fire to the ruling party headquarters.

1450 GMT: Evan Hill of Al Jazeera English responds to the Bahrain State news agency's denunciation of an Al Jazeera report on the harassment of schoolgirls by security forces (see 0545 GMT): "Bahrain responds to AJE, claims reporter [Charles Stratford] never entered country. Ironic, since he was interrogated & told never to return."

1400 GMT: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that security forces have arrested human rights activist Najati Tayara in Homs.

1335 GMT: The head of Bahrain's military, Sheik Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, has said Gulf Cooperation Council troops, including Saudi Arabian units, will remain in the country even after emergency rule is lifted on 1 June.

Meanwhile, a special security court sentenced a protester, Hamad Yousef Kazim, to 15 years in prison for attempted murder of a police officer and participation in a protest. The cases of 21 others were continued until next Monday.

Al Khalifa threatened even harsher crackdowns if demonstrators appear on the streets: "I say to those who did not get the message, 'If you return we will come back, stronger this time.'"

The commander claimed that protesters were "given pills which affected their minds and made them do unusual things".

1330 GMT: A photograph of the first successful candidates to join the police force after the opposition took control of Benghazi in east Libya:


1310 GMT: Having outlined alleged harassment on schoolgirls by Bahrain's security forces --- a report which aroused the ire of Bahraini officials (see 0545 GMT) --- Al Jazeera English examines the regime's intimidation, detention, and interrogation of medical staff.

1250 GMT: A Libyan regime official says NATO airstrikes on Muammar Qaddafi´s compound in Tripoli (see 0750 GMT) have killed six people and wounded 10.

At least three rockets have struck opposition-held Ajdabiya in eastern Libya on Thursday but no casualties were reported.

The insurgent frontline is now 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) west of Ajdabiya, while regime forces are 20 kilometres further west.

The British military says its aircraft attacked five mobile radar systems and a surface-to-air missile launcher in strikes near Tripoli and Sirte on Wednesday.

1208 GMT: Claimed footage of a protest in Barzeh outside the Syrian capital Damascus on Wednesday:

1205 GMT: An activist reports that at least two people have died and dozens have been injured in an attack on protesters in Taiz in Yemen today.

1200 GMT: Footage has been posted of an overnight protest in Latakia in Syria.

1155 GMT: After meeting the head of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, British Foreign Minister William Hague has announced that the NTC will be able to open an office in London.

0945 GMT: Syrian activists have posted a document which they claim is a list of people wanted by authorities:

0940 GMT: Al Jazeera Arabic put Wednesday's death toll in Syria at 22, with nine killed in Homs and 13 in the south of the country.

0840 GMT: The Guardian of London raises the death toll in Yemen from Wednesday's clashes to at least 18, with "hundreds" wounded.

The newspaper adds this description of events in the capital Sanaa:


Violence broke out in the capital when a throng of 2,000 protesters tore away from the main sit-in area at Sana'a University and surged en masse towards the cabinet building in downtown Sana'a with shouts of "God is great" and "Allah rid us of this tyrant".


As they neared their destination they were halted by republican guards who, after trying to disperse them with tear gas and water cannons, began firing live rounds at the crowd.

Soldiers positioned on the balconies and roofs of nearby houses rained bullets down on the angry mob of protesters, who responded by hurling chunks of broken-off paving slabs.

The standoff, which lasted for around four hours, climaxed when soldiers loyal to a defected general, Major Ali Mohsin, arrived in pickup trucks and began returning fire at Saleh's troops.


0755 GMT: Syrian troops and plainclothes officers in Jassim in the south:

0750 GMT: Four NATO airstrikes hit the Libyan capital Tripoli early this morning.

Regime officials said the strikes targeted leader Muammar Qaddafi's compound in the Bab al-Aziziya area. At the nearby Khadra Hospital, medics wheeled in two men they said were killed in the shelling.

0700 GMT: A photograph from Syria's state news agency SANA of supporters of President Assad protesting outside the US Embassy in Damascus yesterday:

0650 GMT: A Global Post spokesman said that the site's reporter James Foley, as well as freelance journalist Clare Morgana Gillis --- detained in Libya since 5 April --- have had their first visitor.

The intermediary said the two were in good health and were being treated well.

0615 GMT: Video of demonstrations in Homs last night --- at least five people were reportedly killed by fire from security forces during the day:

0555 GMT: Libyan State TV has shown footage of leader Muammar Qaddafi meeting officials in a Tripoli hotel on Wednesday.

Qaddafi had not appeared in public since a 30 April airstrike on his compound that killed his youngest son, Seif al-Arab Qaddafi, and three of his grandchildren.

"We tell the world: 'Those are the representatives of the Libyan tribes,'" Gaddafi said as he pointed to his visitors and named a few of them.

An old man then told him, "You will be victorious."

0545 GMT: Bahrain's State news agency has tried to hit back at an Al Jazeera report (see video in Wednesday's LiveBlog) on harassment of female students by security forces:

"The allegations made by Al Jazeera English are totally baseless and without credibility," the sources said. "Reports that the police have targeted students or beat them or threatened them are a blatant and malicious fabrication," the sources said.

"The sources" also claimed "Bahrain remains fully committed to the respect of human rights of all Bahraini citizens, expatriates and visitors". 

0520 GMT: Significant news out of Libya as well on Wednesday....

Opposition forces took control of the airport outside Misurata, 210 km (130 miles) east of Tripoli, after several days of fighting. The advance was significant, both strategically and symbolically, after insurgents withstood a regime siege of more than two months upon Libya's third-largest city.

0500 GMT: Wednesday's LiveBlog was dominated by the news of the deaths and injuries on the streets as Syrian and Yemeni forces tried to contain and put down protests.

The reports, given restrictions on communications, were often fragmented, but by the end of the day, it appeared that at least 19 people had been slain in Syria and nine killed in Yemen. Equally striking, however, were the locations of the casualties: they were not in one place but in different towns across the two countries.

In other words, despite the resort to force --- including tank shelling in Syria --- the demonstrations are expanding in their range. By last night, the protests had reached Aleppo, Syria's second-largest country, which has been largely quiet during the uprising that began on 15 March. Thousands of students reportedly demonstrated before security forces broke up the protest.

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