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Syria, Yemen, Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: A Massacre --- But Who and How Many?

2030 GMT: Video of the march to the Acting President's house in the Yemeni capital Sana'a today:

2025 GMT: The Syrian Ambassador to France, Lamia Chakkour, has denied in a phone call to Al Jazeera Arabic that she has resigned.

Earlier today (see 1814 GMT), a person claiming to be Chakkour told France 24 that she had quit Syria's diplomatic service. However, the Ambassador is now saying that she will sue France 24 for the erroneous report.

1847 GMT: Protesters in Sana'a may be planning a 24 hour sit-in in front of the residence of Yemen's acting President, demanding the institution of a transitional council.

A picture of the crowd:

1835 GMT: Today marked the first sustained NATO air campaign during the day, as air strikes rocked Gaddafi's military compound in Bab al-Aziziya, Libya. 

But the people of Tripoli seemed to go about their business as if nothing was happening. The Guardian reports that the markets were open, and life continued almost as normal. Also, reporters have found very little anti-Western sentiment, despite the continuous air raids:

In the narrow streets of Tripoli's old city the walls shook when the first bombs landed in the late morning. One man shouted "God is great"; another muttered "We don't care."

But as the explosions kept coming – Tuesday saw some of the heaviest daylight bombardment by Nato since the air strikes began in March – people seemed barely to notice.

In a coffee bar deep in Tripoli's main souk, groups of men smoking shisha pipes carried on chatting whenever a new boom sounded. Even the caged songbirds in the cafe seemed unperturbed, chirping away.

"The bombing is the song we live with," said Sadiq Hussain, a 52-year-old silversmith. "It's no problem for us."

1814 GMT: It is perhaps symbolic that the first major defector from the Syrian government is a woman. Lamia Chakkour announced earlier on France 24 TV, that she was resigning her position as the ambassador to France, denouncing the violence employed by the regime.

Below, women demonstrate agaimnst the government in Daraa, Syria:

1744 GMT: Reuters is reporting that the Syrian ambassador to France has resigned in protest against the killing of civilians and protesters. 

1734 GMT: Pro-Syrian Palestinians killed 11 anti-Syrian Palestinians in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus.

Hundreds of angry refugees had tried to storm the headquarters of the Syrian-backed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) in Yarmouk camp on the edges of Damascus, according to Reuters.

1729 GMT: Mohammed al-Qadhi, a journalist for The National newspaper, gave this report about the situation in Sana'a, Yemen.

1546 GMT: Colonel Gadaffi has given an audio address while NATO is conducting its first major daytime air campaign. Al Jazeera English is reporting that he has asked his supporters to go to his military compound, an act which would use them as human shields.

1542 GMT: Multiple sources are reporting that protesters have marched on the home of the acting president of Yemen, Vice President Hadi, demanding that he sign on to a transition plan and immediately form a transitional council. 

1540 GMT: Libya's Colonel Gaddafi is giving a speech, showing defiance and vowing to die before he leaves Libya. We'll update in a bit... 

1531 GMT: Protesters on the Turkey-Syria border chant for Turkey's Prime Minister to intervene in the crisis.

1525 GMT: An Obama official tells that AP that Yemen's President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is also suffering from bleeding inside his skull (updated from below).

1520 GMT: The Yemen Human Rights Monitor is reporting that fighting in the Hasaba region of Sana'a, Yemen, is preventing bodies from being removed from the streets. (Graphic pictures, we suggest you just take our word for it)

1517 GMT: In a clash on the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, 1 civilian and 2 Saudi guards were killed as the man tried to cross over the border and stopped by the guards.

1504 GMT: Yet another account of what really happened in Jisr al-Shughour on Sunday. The opposition group Avaaz has sent this email to the Guardian:

Our activists have provided some much needed clarity to the situation in Jisr Al Shoghour over the past 24 hours. Reports put out by the regime news agency Sana that protesters took up arms and killed 120 regime troops are completely baseless. Activists in the area confirm that opposition protesters remain entirely peaceful and are unarmed.

Yesterday a 'large number' of troops from a military unit based in the town refused to fire on protesters and defected to the opposition. Activists say the 4th Battalion reacted with force, shelling them with tanks and attack helicopters. The defected troops, who may be in possession of tanks, fought back and the ensuing battle claimed dozens of lives.

Exact numbers of casualties have yet to be confirmed. Regime reinforcements including tanks and helicopters have been reported entering the town this afternoon and activists fear that the promised reprisals by the regime will descend into 'another massacre'.

1458 GMT: An unarmed man, in a crowd of unarmed men, is shot and dies in Deir al-Zour, Syria (extremely graphic video) on Friday.

1452 GMT: The opposition in Bahrain is claiming that a 9-year-old girl, Fatima Ali Khalil, was killed today after she inhaled an excessive amount of tear gas.

Also, this video reportedly shows protests broken up by tear gas, rubber bullets, and bird-shot canisters.

1444 GMT: The semi-official Syria News organization is confirming that attack helicopters and paratroopers have been used in an assault on Jisr al-Shughour, in Idlib province. They note the government claim that they were asked to intervene by residents in the region. 

Meanwhile, a reporter for the Human Rights Watch has received this eyewitness report about Sunday's events from the village:

"Eventually the security forces ran out of bullets and at that point the protesters took them as hostages. What happened to the security forces afterwards is one of the questions that remains unclear. Syrian official sources says anything between 80 and 120 were killed. Some of the witnesses say some were killed, but the numbers are lower.

"Security forces used helicopters. One of the witnesses said they were used to shoot at people from 3pm to 6pm on Saturday. But it is very difficult to confirm because the number of witnesses so far is limited.

"According to the witness we spoke to a number of the army defected to the protest side, and that some of them are still hiding with the protesters. When we asked 'how many soldiers?' the answer was simply 'a few soldiers' and that some of them had been shot.

"We are hearing about 48 protester died in total and more than 60 security officials - how much were due to defections and how much was due to protesters responding to violence remains to be verified. There was some form of armed resistance."

1429 GMT: Syrian government newspapers have called for more protests on the border with the Israeli controlled Golan Heights. The Syrian government has been accused of sparking unrest, or at the very least taking advantage of the pro-Palestinian protests to distract from internal problems. 

According to the report, the Tishreen newspaper said that Israel should not be surprised if 600,000 displaced Syrians crossed over the border to reclaim their territory.

1417 GMT: Claimed footage of youth protests at the Tajoura Arada Market in Tripoli. Protests in the capital city were common before Ghaddafi's violent crackdown, but have resumed in the past week.

1411 GMT: Sam Kiley (Sky News) is reporting that there have been 10 airstrikes in the last 2 hours on a military compound west of Ghaddafi's headquarters in Tripoli. 

1404 GMT: Yemen is claiming that it has killed 30 Al Qaeda militants in fighting near Zinjibar. However, the opposition maintains that the Yemeni government is using fear of Al Qaeda as a reason for the West to support the Saleh government. There are even claims that elements within the government support Al Qaeda, claims that would be supported by some US intelligence information and past doubts about the Yemeni government.(James Miller notes the need for him to find the time to write up an indepth analysis)

However, Yemen also has waged a long campaign against Al Qaeda. The truth is murkier than the US media, or the Saleh government, seem to be making it. 

1359 GMT: Impressive video, reportedly from Deraa, Syria, showing protesters packing containers with food and dragging them across a sniper alley with a string.

1336 GMT: The propaganda war over the identity of the martyrs continues. This video allegedly shows anti-government protesters carrying the body of a police officer, Hussein Kamal Ismail Hula, who was killed because he refused to shoot protesters.

If the man in the coffin is a police officer, and these protesters are ant-regime, it adds a high amount of credibility to the opposition's claim, as they have the body.

1320 GMT: Protests last night in Abu Kamal, Syria, near the border with Iraq:

1310 GMT: A Facebook Page has been established for the 'Gay Girl in Damascus,' Amina Abdalla, a lesbian blogger living in Syria who was kidnapped yesterday. Before she was kidnapped, she used her blog to defy the Syrian regime.

James Miller takes the liveblog.

1240 GMT: Reports have come in through the morning that tribal fighters have taken control of the Yemeni city of Taiz.

More than 400 gunmen reportedly occupied the city, whose Freedom Square is one of the centres of protest against President Saleh.

1200 GMT: Claimed video of protest in the Syrian capital Damascus last night:

1100 GMT: A propaganda snapshot from Libya, courtesy of The New York Times:


The nightly propaganda tour to NATO bombing sites around the Libyan capital — the main component of every foreign reporter’s routine in a city controlled by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi — led to a rustic backyard in the predawn hours of Monday where a family with several small, frightened children, said to have been dining outside late into the night, had supposedly endured a narrow escape from a NATO missile.


But a NATO missile with Cyrillic script on its components? With that discovery from the wreckage, the official briefing about 50 journalists paused in his fulminations against NATO, but only to recalibrate his account. Yes, he said, it was a Russian missile, part of Libya’s armory, but it had reached the backyard by what foreign reporters familiar with arcade games quickly dubbed the “bank shot” or “pinball” method.

In that sequence, a NATO bomb or missile first hits a Libyan arsenal somewhere out in the dark, igniting the Russian missile and sending it blasting off into the night. The effect, the handler said, was the same, regardless of the missile’s provenance. NATO had nearly killed innocent Libyan civilians.

“It is an aggression,” he said. “It is evil.”


1015 GMT: Journalists are reporting "a huge explosion", presumably from a NATO airstrike, around Muammar Qaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in central Tripoli.

0945 GMT: Six people have been killed and 17 wounded in the Yemeni army's shelling of the southern town of Daleh, according to a leader of the Southern Movement, a coalition of groups wanting greater autonomy or independence for the region.

A hospital official had said that four civilians were killed and at least 11 others wounded.

The shelling followed clashes in the town centre between police and armed supporters of the Southern Movement.

Daleh was paralysed by a general strike called by the Southern Movement, also observed in other towns in the south to protest the blockade of Daleh imposed since the month of March, to demand the liberation of detainees, and to call for the independence of the south.

0900 GMT: Protest in Idlib in northwest Syria against President Assad:

0815 GMT: Clashes between regime troops and insurgents at the entrance to the southern Yemen town of Zinjibar have killed 15 people, nine of them soldiers, the Yemeni military and medics have said.

Regime units advanced on Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, in an attempt to retake it from militants, who occupied the town on 29 May.

0710 GMT: According to US Government officials briefed by Yemeni counterparts, President Saleh has suffered burns on 40% of his body and has a collapsed lung. An Arab diplomat adds that one shrapnel wound is 7 centimetres (2.75 inches) deep.

0545 GMT: We know that something terrible has happened in Jisr al-Shughour, the town in Syria's northwest, but we are not sure what and how many people have died because of it.

This weekend activists, through reports and videos, were claiming that protesters had been wounded and killed by security forces. By Monday morning, the toll was at least 38 dead.

Throughout yesterday, however, Syrian state media tried to take over the narrative:

The number of police and security forces personnel martyred by armed gangs in Jisr al-Shughour has risen to 120. 

[State media] SANA correspondent said that the armed groups barricading themselves in some areas are using machine guns, medium-sized weapons and hand grenades.

He added that the residents are pleading for a rapid interference of the army.

28 police and security forces personnel were martyred during the early hours of Monday in an ambush set by armed gangs near Jisr al-Shughour.

According to preliminary information, 20 security and police personnel were ambushehed on their way to Jisr al-Shughour in response to a call for help from civilians who were terrorized and fled their homes towards police and security stations.

At this point, there is no way to check the reports.

Last night, another story emerged in Syria. Dual American-Syrian national Amina Arraf, who writes the blog A Gay Girl in Damascus as Amina Abdallah, was kidnapped by three armed men in the Syrian capital. There is no further news of her this morning.

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