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Syria, Yemen, Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Just Another Manic Friday?

Video from today's massive protest in Yemen's capital, Sanaa:

1935 GMT: A hospital official has said that Suzanne Mubarak, wife of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, suffered a heart attack Friday after she was questioned over corruption allegations (see 1302 GMT).

Hosni Mubarak was hospitalised with heart problems soon after he was summoned for questioning last month.

1930 GMT: Libya State TV has broadcast an audio statement by leader Muammar Qaddafi, denying he is injuring. He condemns the NATO attack on his Tripoli compound, saying he is "in a place where you can't reach me".

(The announcer responds after the audio, "Yes, oh Brother Leader, the millions are with you and are behind you.")

1646 GMT: In Yemen, 3 have been killed and 15 injured as government security forces opened fire on protesters in the city of Ibb, in the south. At least three were injured by gunfire in protests in Taiz. 

See also Syria Video Protest: This Friday's Protests
Syria Video Special: This Friday's Protests --- Set 2

1642 GMT: A sobering report from a source in Damascus, Syria:

We have the names of 6 people who got killed today. In  3, in  2 and one in . Others are in critical conditions 

1617 GMT: Al Jazeera is reporting that several hundred protesters have defied the heavy security presence and taken to the streets in Dumayr, 30km east of Damascus, to protest the regime's siege of Douma. 

1556 GMT: Is Gaddafi injured? A confusing report out of Italy: Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini, citing the bishop of Tripoli, reported earlier that Colonel Gaddafi has left Tripoli and is probably wounded by NATO air strike. He stressed that he has no hard evidence supporting the claim. A regime spokesman has condemned the report as "nonsense."

1503 GMT: Several hundred demonstrators gathered in the Damascus suburb of Berze today.

An eyewitness gives Al Jazeera this report:

“Shame on you, standing along the pavement!” they chanted, “For you just coming to watch, it’s better to walk back home!”

“Two hours before prayer security men, soldiers and riot police were waiting here to finish any demonstration,” a local resident told Al Jazeera.

“Some young people tried to demonstrate but they couldn’t organise a big one. Two or three hundred demonstrated in Berze’s old suburb, but the number of security men was more than us.” 

1454 GMT: A crowd of demonstrators stretched on for seven kilometers (four miles) in the capital city of Yemen today. In Taiz and Ibb, gunfire erupted as security attempted to disperse the crowds there. Hundreds of soldiers and armored vehicles reinforced government buildings, including the Presidential palace and the State TV headquarters.

We've received no reports of violence in Sana'a, as huge crowds potentially prevented any crackdown.

Presedent Ali Abdullah Saleh, however, remained defiant in statements made today.

“We will confront a challenge with a challenge. Whoever wants power should head to the ballot box ... stop playing with fire.”

A massive crowd of demonstrators in the capital of Yemen, Sana'a:

1444 GMT: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has invited the monarchies of Jordan and Morocco to join its ranks. On the surface, the GCC will likely claim the move is designed to combat foreign threats and foster oil security, but it is important to note that Jordan and Morocco have not been immune from protests in recent weeks, and the GCC was instrumental in shutting down the opposition in Bahrain. 

1439 GMT: Another video from Ibb, Yemen. As gunfire breaks out, and protesters scatter, the videographer zooms in on the top floor of a building, perhaps where a sniper has been shooting at the crowd.

1434 GMT: A report from the front lines in Libya, where a confident group of rebels hold the high ground:

1427 GMT: Al Jazeera reports that thousands of security forces have successful disrupted a protest in the Damascus neighborhood of Midan, deep in the capital of Syria. An eyewitness has this account:

“'Around the mosque I must have seen about 3,000 different security men. On the checkpoints they carry guns, but most carry sticks. The journey is usually ten minutes, but today it took an hour and a half. There were also dozens of buses full of armed security," the witness said...

"'This week people were very scared for some reason, more frightened than before. Even the imam of the mosque gave a very general speech. You couldn’t say he was with or against the government.

"From the speech and their tactics I think it is obvious the regime have got control over Midan. It is no longer going to be a central place for protests. They’ve learned how to surround and contain it.

"There were 3,000 people ready to arrest us. That’s more than we fit inside the mosque. It was impossible to stand against them.'”

1424 GMT: The UN worries that 1/10 of the refugees fleeing Libya by boat will perish. Over 12,000 refugees have already arrived in Malta, Italy, but over 1,200 are unaccounted for, presumably drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. 

1419 GMT: Britain has summoned the Syrian Ambassador Sami Khiyami, threatening the al-Assad regime with new sanctions if violence continues. On Wednesday, Germany deliveered a similar message. 

1411 GMT: Mahmoud Gebril, interim Prime Minister of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) makes a powerful call for more support in the New York Times today. His primary requests: Intesnify NATO operations, officially recognize the NTC as the legitimate government of Libya, work fast to unfreeze Libyan assets and return them to the NTC, and increase and sustain humanitarian aid. 

1401 GMT: As reports filter in of gunfire being used against protesters in Yemen today, this video appears to show a large crowd of protesters, distant gunfire, and a vehicle on fire in Ibb, Yemen.

This video claims to show a protester killed in Ibb today.

1359 GMT: An update about Wednesday's protest in Yemen. As large crowds of anti-government protesters were shot at by security forces, at least 1 protester was killed and 30 severely injured. An ambulance was even hit by a stray bullet as it attempted to rescue an injured person. 

1356 GMT: New video, reportedly showing a huge crowd today in Taiz, Yemen:

1342 GMT: Al Jazeera is confirming that secret police have opened fire on protesters in the Bab Dreib neighborhood of Homs, Syria. At least one protester has been killed. It is interesting to note that, while there is a huge army presence in the city, plain clothed police are reportedly to blame for the shoot. (see update below about al-Assad ordering his security forces not to fire on protesters). Also, two eyewitnesses report snipers on the roof tops.

1329 GMT: A human rights activist is reporting that there is live fire and tear gas being used to disperse crowds in the Damascus suburb of Darraya right now.

He also reports that there are five separate protests in Homs, Syria, but they are all trying to combine in the center of the city. 

In recent protests, Syrian security forces have attempted to keep protesters away from the center of large cities, splitting them up to control them.

1322 GMT: In Tahrir Square, thousands have gathered today, some to show solidarity with Palestinians (picture), some to get married, and many to chant for unity of Egyptians and Arabs.

1317 GMT: This video of an anti-government protest rally following Friday prayers in Yemen:

1313 GMT: Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi may be losing his grip on his capital. Tripoli has been rocked by NATO airstrikes in recent days. Yesterday, NATO conducted 52 air strikes across the country, with many of those targets in Tripoli. However, there is now news that protesters have once again taken to the streets in Tripoli, and gunfire could be heard in the capital city as protesters clashed with security forces.

1302 GMT: Suzanne Mubarak, wife of former Egyptian President, has been arrested and will be detained for at least 15 days while she is investigated.

1249 GMT: Bashar al-Assad may have already showed how serious he is at protecting protesters. A source with family in Daraa and Damascus has this report:

The young man Nadeem of Bab Dreeb #Homs has been martyred by gunfire of security forces against protesters #Syria

1245 GMT: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has issued an order to police and security forces, ordering them not to shoot live ammunition at protesters. Reports are that heavy machine guns, tanks, and many soldiers have been stationed throughout the country. We'll have to wait and see how this develops.

1242 GMT: There are now 11 videos from today's protests in Syria in our separate post.

1237 GMT: A UK foreign office spokesman has expressed concern over allegations of torture and human rights abuses in Bahrain:

"It is essential that medical personnel can treat their patients free from political interference. Those accused should have access to legal counsel and be tried before independent and impartial courts.

“We continue to urge the Government of Bahrain to meet all its human rights obligations and uphold political freedoms, equal access to justice and the rule of law. Those who have been detained should now have full access to the due process of law."


1230 GMT: In Syria, Al Jazeera is reporting that 50 families have fled Homs and crossed the border with Lebanon, fearing fresh violence. 

Also, at least 50 people have been arrested after leaving a mosque in the Midan district of Damascus.

1223 GMT: We've posted a separate video entry of today's protests in Syria.

Two pictures from Tahrir Square (see last update). The first, Friday prayers. The second, the gathering protest.

1216 GMT: It's already been a busy day in Egypt as well. Thousands have turned out in Tahrir Square to protest against the violence between Muslims and Coptic Christians in the neighborhood of Imbaba. Mohamed El-Baradei, the April 6 Youth Movement and the Muslim Brotherhood have all condemned the outbreak of violence, an encouraging sign that the leading political groups are attempting to show unity, not division.

Other groups are also rallying in Tahrir Square to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel. 

1206 GMT: A source in Syria is promoting several videos taken today. The first depicts protests in the Al Zanabaqi District of Hama.

11:56 GMT: James Miller reporting for duty in the middle of a busy news day...

Thousands of Kurds have turned out to protest the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. In Amouda, 3500 have gathered, and in Qamishli nearly 4000 Kurds, Arabs, and Assyrian Christians have taken to the streets together to protest against the repressive regime. Ismail Hami, Secretary General of the Kurdish Yakiti Party, spoke to Al Jazeera today:

"The Kurds are now expanding their participation in demonstrations calling for freedom in the country, along with other fellow Syrians. The army's intervention is condemned." 

This video reportedly shows the scene in Qamishli today. People can be heard chanting,  "In blood and soul we sacrifice for you Deraa" and "The Syrian people are one".

0930 GMT: Mahmoud Jibril, the head of Libyan opposition National Transitional Council, has said at least 11,000 people have been killed since mid-February and 750,000 others have fled the country.

Jibril is in the US for talks with American officials, as the Council seeks formal recognition as the representative of the Libyan people.

0925 GMT: A Frenchman has died from a gunshot wound after he and four other French nationals were stopped at a police checkpoint in opposition-held Benghazi in Libya.

A French Government spokesman said he hoped to get more details about the incident. He did not know who the French citizens were or why they were in Benghazi.

0730 GMT: The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights reports that 12 demonstrators were given one-year sentences in the National Safety Court on Thursday for participating in illegal demonstrations and rallies, riots, the obtaining of publications, and inciting public hatred of the rulers.

0710 GMT: The Obama Administration has given a lukewarm response to a petition from the AFL-CIO, the leading American labour organisation, calling on the US to warn Bahrain that its crackdown has jeopardised a 2006 trade pact at risk.

US Trade Representative Ron Kirk told a Congressional hearing, "We do take their concerns seriously and we're working to address them," but he added, "We don't want to make a judgment on that until we have an opportunity" to fully look into the matter.

He then put aside the possibility that the Administration might put Bahrain on a six-month notice that the US could withdraw from the pact: "I don't know that I would agree with the assessment that we go from A to Z in terms of saying we're going to pull out of the trade agreement."

0620 GMT: Sherine Tadros of Al Jazeera reports from Cairo on possible protest today over the attacks on Christian churches in Egypt, "Lots of people in front of State TV building early this morning. Big call for Copts to gather there today after mass."

Others observe that hundreds have also gathered in Tahrir Square, flying Palestinian flags in a demonstration of solidarity.

0615 GMT: Protests in Homs in Syria on Thursday:

0610 GMT: A narrow escape for a journalist in Yemen --- his camera took the bullet:

0530 GMT: Our first ports of call today will be Syria and Yemen, as the struggle between protests and regimes may be nearing a critical point. Despite an escalation of military activity in both countries, with dozens dying and hundreds wounded this week, demonstrations are expected after Friday prayers.

Libya is in a less dramatic but equally important phase. The eastern front is now established between Ajdabiya and Brega; even more importantly, the opposition now appears to have secured its position --- after months of struggle --- in Misurata in the west. Insurgents claimed the airport on Wednesday, and now there are claims that the port has been secured, with the help of NATO intervention on Thursday. If true, this would mean more aid can move into the city.

Protests elsewhere? The Bahraini regime appears to have quashed open dissent. Egypt could see rallies today, however. And while the political temperature has dropped a bit from Morocco to Jordan to Iraq, by no means does this mean that all is resolved over the issues of reform and government legitimacy.

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