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Libya, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Maintaining the Pressure

Tanks surround Jisr al-Shughour in northwest Syria

2015 GMT: A protest in Idlib Province in northwest Syria condemns military occupations:

1925 GMT: Back from a break to find that Spain has expelled the Libyan Ambassador, Ajeli Abdussalam Ali Breni, "because the Qaddafi regime has lost all legitimacy due to its continual repression of the Libyan population."

The ambassador has 10 days to leave.

The Spanish Government is also expelling three other Libyan diplomats "who undertook activities incompatible with their diplomatic status." However, Spain has not broken diplomatic relations with Libya.

1630 GMT: Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, a Bahraini lawyer who had been hired by the government to represent Bahranis detained at Guantanamo Bay, has been barred from his home country. 

"This, of course, is a relatively minor indignity. Far more important is the remarkable way in which many of those in Bahrain who excoriated the United States for its denial of rights to the Bahrainis in Guantánamo, now defend the denial of rights to Bahrainis in Bahrain."

He tells his story for Open Democracy.

1618 GMT: Al Jazeera is reporting that a major air strike has taken place in Kikla, Libya, in the Western Mountains. According to the report, either a fuel depot or a weapons depot was struck, and huge plumes of smoke can be seen from nearby positions. Air strikes have just started in the region, as NATO appears to be pressing their attacks closer to the front lines of battle.

1418 GMT: Protests raged yesterday in Hama, but apparently they also reached late into the night.

1357 GMT: Another Syrian town, Khan Sheikhun, north of Hama and sourh of Ma'arat al Nu'man, is now the focus of the Syrian military. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, dozens of tanks and other heavy vehicles have surrounded the town, and soldiers are entereing the town. 

Yeterday, we reported that over 120,000 people demonstrated against the Syrian regime yesterday, and the Syrian military had recently moved against Ma'arat al Nu'man.

According to Al Jazeera, the road between Aleppo, Syria's second largest city, and the capital Damascus has been shut by the military.

1346 GMT: James Miller takes the liveblog.

This video, uploaded today, shows protesters in Yemen demanding the formation of a transitional council.

1320 GMT: Syrian state news agency SANA is claiming that "hundreds of thousands of the Syrian people on Wednesday raised the biggest Syrian flag at al-Mezzeh Highway in Damascus in a response to a campaign launched by Syria's youths and in an expression of their deep national belonging and their rejection of any foreign interference in Syria's affairs".

The website has several photographs of the rally with the 2300-metre long and 18-metre wide flag and testimony from young participants.

Euronews presents footage from the Damascus rally, as well as protests against the regime:

And Iran's Press TV offers a lengthy programme claiming that "Syria Stands Strong with Assad".

0945 GMT: Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the son of the Libyan leader, has said that Muammar Qaddafi Gaddafi will agree to internationally-supervised elections if there is no vote-rigging.

Saif al-Islam said that the vote might be held within three months and would be by the end of 2011 at the latest, with the presence of international observers.

The leader's son also proclaimed, "I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of Libyans stands with my father and sees the rebels as fanatical Islamist fundamentalists, terrorists stirred up from abroad, mercenaries on the orders of (French President Nicolas) Sarkozy.

He continued, "[Muammar Gaddafi] will never leave Libya. He was born here and intends to die and be buried here, alongside those he holds dear."

0930 GMT: A Syria-based human rights activist has claimed that security forces have arrested hundreds of men in the northwestern province of Idlib, where towns and villages have been occupied by the military.

Mustafa Osso said the arrests are mainly concentrated in the Jisr al-Shughour area, the town of Maarat al-Numan, and nearby villages.

0845 GMT: Footage has been posted of a night-time protest in the southern town of Daraa and the Qabboun section of the Syrian capital Damascus.

Claimed video of a Wednesday demonstration in the Jezdan section of Hama:

0810 GMT: Claimed footage of protest on Wednesday in the Ruken-Aldeen area of Damascus:

0630 GMT: Yesterday we reported on the detention of three Bahraini activists --- Zainab al-Khawaja (@angryarabiya), Asma Darwish (@eagertobefree), and Sawsan Jawad (@sparweezj) --- who staged a sit-in at the United Nations office in Manama as they presented a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon:


The detention, torture and trials of innocent people has become common and systematic in Bahrain. Many are on unfair military trials with false charges, some as absurd as "spreadinghatred against the regime. The UN must not allow this to continue.


The three, who all have relatives imprisoned on political charges, were eventually released late last night after interrogation. The twist in the story is that we could follow their experience in real time via Twitter. They were sending messages such as "I think the UN might have misunderstood, we wanted the release of political prisoners, not to join them :)"

Al-Khawaja summarised from detention, "I hope todays drama will help the prisoners. Our goal was never to get home safe, but to get protection for all poitical prisoners in bh [Bahrain]."

0615 GMT: Al Wasat claims that 25 employees of Bahrain's Parliament have been dismissed since the start of pro-reform protests in February.

0600 GMT: Claimed footage of protest in the northeastern Syrian town of Deir al Zor last night:

0555 GMT: A brief clip from AFP features Yemeni military units who are opposing the regime of President Saleh:

0500 GMT: In Libya, contrasting offensives by rival military forces on Wednesday. NATO aircraft carried out a series of raids on Tripoli last night, and Libyan State TV claims strikes on two other cities.

In the western mountains, regime forces tried to hit back by shelling insurgent positions. Earlier in the week, the opposition had advanced in the area, as well as moving forward west of its base in Misurata, 210 kilometres (130 miles) east of Tripoli, and putting pressure on Zawiya, 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of the Libyan capital.

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