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Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Can the Regime "Lose" Homs?

2100 GMT: Night-time protest in Daraa in southern Syria tonight, "Oh Homs, Daraa is with you until death":

And a demonstration in the Tayba Al-Imam section in Hama also expresses solidarity:

1955 GMT: A summary of the situation tonight in Homs....

Human rights activists and residents are reporting intense gunfire as security forces conduct raids and arrests. "There is heavy military deployment in Homs; military checkpoints are everywhere in the city. There is heavy shooting in Bab al-Sbaa, one house was burned and the humanitarian conditions are dire," the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

A resident of the city said mosque loudspeakers were calling for people to come to the aid of Bab al-Sbaa, which he said had been under heavy machine-gun fire since 4 a.m.

Activists claim more than 50 people have been killed in the city since the weekend.

1912 GMT: A protest today in Homs:

1905 GMT: Claimed video of a protest tonight in Al Tal, a Damascus suburb:

1854 GMT: A Maryland man who traveled to Libya to cover the uprisings has been spotted in a Libyan prison. Matthew VanDyke, who disappeared in March, has been spotted by two independent sources. He traveled around the Middle East, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Libya, between 2007-2009, and planned to write a book about his experiences there.

1805 GMT: Al Jazeera reports about the shift in Libya's battle, from territory to resources:

Gaddafi forces have boobytrapped vital petroleum installations in Brega so they can be blown up if his forces lose the town.

Mahmoud Jibril, the opposition diplomatic chief, characterised Brega on Thursday as a "big minefield" and said some oil installations were "full of bombs, explosives".

Meanwhile, the rebels consider how to get their own oil resources online.

1739 GMT: Egypt has sworn in its new cabinet today, a new attempt to purge the government of Mubarak officials and placate the protesters until elections are held.

The new cabinet is likely to focus on economic reforms, as the country faces an economic crisis, coupled with the growth of wealth disparity under the Mubarak rule.

1724 GMT: A "radical shift" in Bahrain's policies? A spokesman for the kingdom said today that the Prime Minister has been granted more powers, a move that the kingdom is painting as unprecedented:

Rahman said the prime minister now has the right to choose members of his government. That government would then be vetted by members of Parliament who have the right to reject or approve the prime minister's decisions.

"This decision represents a radical shift in the balance of power -- between our democratically elected Parliament and our executive branch -- further demonstrating Bahrain's commitment to concrete reforms," he said in a statement.

1659 GMT: Representatives from the Libyan National Transitional Council have asked France for additional support, claiming that they could make significant gains in short amount of time if given the equipment they need.

""With a little bit of help, we will be in Tripoli very soon. Very soon means days," an NTC rep said today.

1654 GMT: CNN, clarifying a report we carried earlier, is now reporting that a child has been killed and 6 others wounded in Yemen's second-largest city, Taiz, after Republican Guard troops opened fire on protesters.

1536 GMT: Al Jazeera has posted a video, showing some of the clips we've already covered below, which summarises the current situation in Homs. In the video they speak to a resident of Homs via satellite phone. His assessment:

"It is as if the Syrian army is at all-out war."

1520 GMT: Approximately two hours ago, Guma El-Gamaty, UK Co-ordinator for the benghazi based NTC, Tweeted that Gaddafi's brother-in-law, a man wanted by the International Criminal Court, may have been killed:

Reports that Abdalla Senussi was shot by tripoli FF and killed or seriously injured. If these report prove true it is a big blow to Gadhafi!

We sat on the report. Gamaty admitted it was a rumor, and he was the only source we had on the story. Now, we have another report, not that Senussi is dead, but that he was injured in an attack at the Four Points Sheraton in Libya. The source is hardly rock solid, but it is now a rumor that is worth following.

1513 GMT: The war over the US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, is heating up (see update at 0830). The Syrian government is now threatening to expel Ford if he leaves Damascus again.

1509 GMT: Germany is trying to pressure Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh to accept the Gulf Cooperation Council plan to step down. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, working through his diplomats, has delivered the message that "the GCC initiative is currently the only way to prevent a possible escalation of tensions to armed conflict."

1502 GMT: More video from the Bab Sbaa neighborhood in Homs. Earlier (0935) we posted video of gunfire and smoke rising above the city. There are reports of casualties. The Guardian has posted this video, showing a tank firing into the neighborhood.

1435 GMT: Good news for the rebels in Libya, where they have made a significant stride in the move from Misurata towards Zliten. The rebels have captured Gaddafi's chief of operations in the area. The Guardian's Chris Stephens reports:

General Abdul Nabih Zayid was caught late on Wednesday after advancing fighters overran his command post at Souk Talat, a small village on the outskirts of Zlitan, opposition commanders said.

"We have him in custody. He is being well looked after," said Mohamed Frefr, in charge of detainees for the rebels. "After three days talking with him we will hand him to the military prison."

Rebels in the besieged coastal city said the general was being interviewed by intelligence officers and well looked after, with supplies of insulin procured because he has diabetes.

A member of the Misrata Military Council, Hassan Duwa, said the general was captured as rebel units advanced towards Zlitan late on Wednesday. "He was in his house, 11 guys surrounded the house."

His capture is regarded as a major feather in the cap for rebel forces. The general gained notoriety among rebels when he helped co-ordinate the deployment of tanks into the streets of Misrata in March, triggering two months of street fighting that saw much of the city wrecked and hundreds killed.

Misrata's war crimes investigators say the general, who was operations officer at the city garrison before the war, is a "person of interest" for his role in what they say were widespread and systematic attacks against civilians.

1430 GMT: A large protest in the Shadid Common, in the Qaboun district of Damascus, as the crowd honors a martyr.

1424 GMT: In Yemen, a massive rally in Taiz today, as protesters demand a resolution to the crisis and show their support of the transitional council:

Protesters is al-Bayda, Yemen, condemn US interference with the transitional council:

1336 GMT: Despite the struggles of the Libyan rebels, they are making slow and steady progress near Misurata, but Gaddafi isn't giving up without a fight:

1330 GMT: Medics in Taiz are reporting that the Yemen Republican Guard has shot and killed a protester, wounding three others:

The soldiers opened fire as thousands of people protested against the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in central Taez, a flashpoint city south of the capital Sanaa, according to organisers.

It is the first time a protester has been killed in weeks in Taiz, one of the first cities to rise up against Saleh's rule.

1314 GMT: James Miller takes the wheel...

And he'll start with a report about the Libyan rebels. The New York Times's C.J. Chivers is reporting that the Libyan rebels are hindered by lack of coordination, poor logistical planning, and infighting on the local level.

He points to the town of Qawalish, and important town where rebel positions were briefly overrun because ammunition was not properly distributed. Some groups of fighters were hoarding ammo, while others ran out of bullets. The regional commander has little influence over these small gangs of friends who form fighting groups, and as a result, the surprise counter-attack overwhelmed the rebels, who fled their positions.

Chivers also reports that many of the officers defecting from Gaddafi's army do not join the ranks of the rebels, making their defections a political victory, but not a military one.

The news is not all bad. Chivers also talks about the diversity of the rebel fighters. However, as the rebels get closer to Tripoli, they will face harder resistance, open terrain where rebels will be vulnerable to artillery, Gaddafi's use of mine fields, an increasingly pro-Gaddafi populace, and the need to change tactics as they enter bigger cities.

These challenges will take lots of coordination, and new weapons (still no sign of the weapons that France says it has supplied the rebels), in order to continue the advance.

0945 GMT: The opposition's local coordination committees in Homs have told Al Jazeera that there is heavy gunfire in different parts of the Syrian city this morning, including in the Bab Sbaa neighbourhood, and many arrests.

The camera operator for this video, which he says shows wide shots of Homs under attack today, said security forces have fired at a residential home.

0910 GMT; Protest in the Syrian capital Damascus on Wednesday:

0850 GMT: One of a set of photos of nightly demonstrations in the Yemeni capital Sana'a supporting President Saleh, still recovering in Saudi Arabia from injuries in a bomb blast at the start of June:

0840 GMT: The US State Department has rejected an order by the Syrian regime that its ambassador seek permission before travelling outside the capital Damascus.

A spokeswoman said diplomats must be allowed to travel freely throughout Syria in order to document a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters. She noted that the Syrian government refuses to allow international media, aid workers or human rights personnel freedom of access.

The spokeswoman added that the US will respond accordingly if the regime inhibits the ability of diplomats to carry out their responsibilities.

Earlier on Wednesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem announced the restrictions upon US Ambassador Robert Ford and French Ambassador Eric Chevallier. He said if they defy the order, Syria will impose a ban on all diplomats leaving the capital.

Ford and Chevallier travelled to Hama, a centre of the challenge to the regime, two weeks ago and spoke with activists and protesters, even as the Syrian military ringed the city.

0740 GMT: Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has said it will not allow international monitors to observe Parliamentary elections.

Maj. Gen. Mamdouh Shaheen, who presented the new election law to reporters, said barring foreign monitors was a necessary step: "We have nothing to hide...[but] we reject anything that affects our sovereignty."

Shaheen said Egyptian election monitors will observe the process.

0735 GMT: Claimed footage of security forces dispersing a group of young men in a Bahraini village on Wednesday:

0620 GMT: The "tent city" sit-in protest in Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital Cairo last night:

0500 GMT: Our first stop this morning is again in Syria. Two weeks the flashpoint was Hama, surrounded by the military as hundreds of thousands demonstrated against the regime. Anthony Shadid, featured yesterday in EA, has written of the fragile freedom that followed --- the security forces carrying out raids but not a full assault while the opposition to President Assad tried to establish its authority in the city.

Now the scene has moved to Homs, Syria's third-largest city. After the deaths of at least 25 people on Monday and Tuesday from attacks by security forces, the situation, there were reports last night of gunfire, patrols by security forces, checkpoints, and people switching off lights to protect themselves from snipers.

Our provocative thought: having "lost" Hama, can the Assad regime afford to lose any more cities?

There were also reports on Tuesday that the military had moved into the Douma and Harasta suburbs of Damascus and dispersals of protests in "old Damascus".

A night-time protest in Taftanaz (northwest Syria, east of the city of Idlib):

And the Raml Al-Janoubi section of Lattakia on the coast:

And the Arbeen section of Damascus:

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