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Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The Regime's Deadly Gamble

Lattakia in Syria last night: "The people want to overthrow the regime"

See also Live Audio From Hama: Shelling Continues for Second Night

Syria Video Special: The Military Assault on Hama
Sunday's Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The Battle for the Cities

2010 GMT: An update on casualties tonight, as the people of Syria are still in the streets. An activist is reporting that 11 people have been killed so far across Syria. With 5 killed earlier, this could put the number at 16 for the day.

In Lattakia, "Three were injured by security forces' fire near Al-Rahman mosque in Tabiyat, and two other injured near Abi-Dardaa mosque tonight," according to the Local Coordinating Committees of Syria.

In the suburbs of Damascus, there are multiple reports and videos of protests, as well as of violence. Here is the latest from the LCCS:

Damascus suburbs: Irbeen: Tayseer Qalesh was killed and many were wounded after security forces and shabiha (regime's armed thugs) fired at the night demonstration today

Activists are reporting that there are over 30 injuries in Irbeen.

2203 GMT: Universitystduents protest tonight in Damascus:

2155 GMT: It is unclear, but we believe this video was taken in Homs, where protesters can be seen running from gunfire this evening.

2150 GMT: An important, though unconfirmed, report from Aleppo:

Aleppo:Bab: Several demos went from many mosques.Protestors are trying to do a sit-in in front of Al-Thuraya.

2139 GMT: In Hama, in the Bab al-Tribaal area, protesters chant "Yalla irhal ya Bashar" (Get out of here, Bashar):

2130 GMT: Activists and the LCCS are also carrying reports of heavy shelling in Homs, particularly in the Qusoor neighborhood and Arabaeen Square. Three people have been kileld so far in the violence, 2 near the Jouret Eshayyah area, and 1 outside the city's stadium.

2124 GMT: We've seen multiple reports of protests and a crackdown in Zabadani. We were about to make the update when we saw this unconfirmed report from a source that has been reliable in the past. LCCS Confirms the report:

Child Wissam Alaa Al Deen killed by the Army in Zabadani few minutes ago

Earlier, just moments ago, LCCS had this report:

Damascus Suburbs: Zabadany: heavy gunfire by security forces on a night demonstration, 3 injured one of them is 16 year old, the demonstration marched from AL Jisr mosque, unconfirmed news about one martyr

2122 GMT: The LCCS is now reporting that there is violence near Lattakia, but the protests are continuing:

Lattakia: Gun fire in Masbah Shaab now and another one in Raml chanting for the besieged cities, one of the chants: "O Hama, O Dier Ezzor, we are with you till death"

2116 GMT: At 2100 we posted video of explosions near Daraa. We now have this update from the LCCS:

Daraa: Daeel: Gun fire is still continuing till now, all tanks that were at the entrances are now in the main streets, fears of storming homes

2112 GMT: Two videos of protests tonight in Jableh, on the coast.

2108 GMT: Another video, but this one comes from Midan, near the heart if Damascus, where a very large protest seems to be taking place as we speak.

2105 GMT: A protest in a mosque in Lattakia, on the coast of Syria, where activists are reporting there is a huge protest at the moment. There was also a huge protest last night (featured video above, updates and video below):

2100 GMT: Heavy gunfire tonight in Hauran Province, outside Dara'a:

2055 GMT: This video, reportedly taken tonight, shows protests in the Ma'adhmiah area of Damascus, where the army was deployed to keep the peace.

2050 GMT: An activist has this report which matches some of the other reports we've seen:

Damascus Suburbs: Massive protests from mosques of Zahra'a, Abdallah Bin Umar, Rahman, Musa, & Hasan- Gathered in Freedom Sq

Damascus Suburbs: A martyr has fallen in Kiswe due to heavy gunfire via @3ayeef

2043 GMT: This is a GRAPHIC AND DISTURBING VIDEO. The video claims to show pro-Assad "thugs" throwing the dead bodies of protesters into a river near Hama. It raises obvious questions - who is videotaping this, and why are they taking the video? If this description is accurate, it is not the first time, however, we've seen up-close video of alleged human rights violations on the part of Assad's supporters or his security forces.

2037 GMT: Activists are reporting that there are protests and clashes in Aleppo, and in and around Damascus as well.

This chaotic video shows protesters from the University of Khaldiyah pouring out of a mosque in Aleppo and clashing with security outside:

2033 GMT: Al Jazeera has this assessment of the scene in Hama, where activists are reporting that hselling is ongoing and a hospital is on fire (see below):

Residents of Hama say the military resumed indiscriminate shelling and firing this evening as residents were breaking their daily dawn-to-dusk fast on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The attacks appeared aimed at preventing the mosque gatherings during special evening prayers, which security forces feared could trigger large anti-government protests.

Today's deaths bring the total number of people killed in Syria since Sunday to at least 150.

2029 GMT: The Local Coordinating Committees of Syria have this update:

Hama: huge fire in AL Rais Hospital, next to AL Hourani hospital, as a result to artillery shells from the tanks near Bilala Mosque

2024 GMT: We've uploaded a second video to our feature. The live-stream from Hama now appears to be over, but the amazing audio tells the tale, a scared, prayerful, and defiant opposition movement in Syria, despite the shelling and the gunfire.

This video, reportedly taken earlier today by the same man, clearly shows smoke rising above Hama.

2009 GMT: Al Jazeera has this update from Syria:

The Local Coordination Committees of Syria are reporting that the Syrian army started random shelling from tanks and shooting from heavy machine guns during the evening Maghreb prayer call.

Targeted areas include: Mezrab, Kousour, Janoub Malaab, Samak Neighborhood, 8 Athar street and Janoubieh Area. The activist group said:

"Electricity generators are being struck currently as preparation to raid those neighborhoods. Snipers are being deployed on the post office in Baath neighborhood."

2003 GMT: Back from an extended break. We have posted a separate feature, streaming audio and video from Hama tonight, where the regime has started a second night of shelling. It is a must listen.

1618 GMT: This picture may have been taken of Tahrir Square yesterday. Regardless, it shows a familiar site, a growing tent city where a sit-in has been growing.

This is Tahrir Square today, after the military has raided the square and kicked out the protesters (see updates below).

1604 GMT: Another grisly scene from the massacre in Hama yesterday. Unarmed civilians attempt to remove the body of a man from the street, as a loud explosion can be heard.

1601 GMT: Turning now towards Yemen, on Saturday the leading tribesman Sheikh Sadeeq al-Ahmar announced that he would be leading a coalition of Yemeni tribes to defy the President, suggesting that he has no legitimacy and the government of Yemen needed to disolve immediately.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh responded yesterday, calling for dialogue and asserting his legitimacy as a leader of that dialogue:

"In this religious occasion, we assert our call for all political forces on the scene to take up dialogue as the only exit and the best means to resolve crises and disputes, and differences," he said. "There is no alternative to dialogue, stemming from national principles and the constitution."

"The change everyone is seeking won't come through violence, spreading hate and envy, the mentality of coups and conspiracies, liquidation of opponents or sowing seeds of sedition," he said.

"Let's move on. ... Yemen won't get out of this crisis amid tension, holding ground in protests in the streets of the capital, which is uncivilized."

1548 GMT: Near Tripoli, the AFP is reporting that 8 loud explosions and plumes of black smoke have risen over the eastern suburb of Tajura.

The rebels may also be planning a fresh assault in Brega.

"We are in the suburbs of Brega and I can see its lights sparkling in the short distance. Expect a surprise," said a rebel, who was involved in exchanging fire with pro-Gaddafi troops in that city.

1535 GMT: Just as we see the Syrian military press hard against Hama and Deir Ez Zor, and as they have been pressing hard against Homs for some time, we see signs of a very vibrant opposition in Lattakia, on the coast of Syria. These were taken either late last night or early this morning:

1521 GMT: In Libya, as we reported earlier, the Freedom Fighters have entered the city of Zliten. Earlier, Al Jazeera Arabic reported that the freedom fighters had pushed 9km into the city (update at 1357 GMT). The Guardian confirms this information, and Chris Stephan has this report on the NATO air assault, led by Britain, against the city:

Rebel commanders reported that the town, which they have struggled to capture for the past eight weeks, was quiet this morning with no sign of government troops.

"We are in the town centre and we have the hospital," said rebel fighter Yunus Al-Haq. "It's good for the spirit."

Securing the town depends on a final obstacle – agreement from the elders of the town's Fowater tribe that Misratan fighters can be "invited" to occupy Zlitan. After that, rebel commanders expect government forces to pull back west to Al Khums, 22 miles to the west.

But despite the capture of tanks and heavy artillery over the weekend, rebel units are too lightly armed to contemplate a headlong rush to Tripoli, most commentators reckon.

Instead, by luck or judgement, they have evolved a strategy of pressing against government lines, forcing Muammar Gaddafi to deploy forces in concentrations that provide inviting targets for Nato.

The Alliance is certainly playing its part; Nato bombing returns show that 54 military targets around Zlitan were destroyed since 25 July, representing one of the heaviest bombing concentrations of the war.

The fall of the town also poses problems for Gaddafi in finding new troops to hold the expanding front line around Misrata without drawing off other forces needed on the eastern front and in the Nafusa mountains to the west.

Both fronts were reportedly quiet today, the eastern front still disrupted by confusion caused by Thursday's murder of army commander Abdul Fatah Younis.

1507 GMT: Germany has called for a closed-door emergency meeting of the UN Security Council this afternoon to discuss the ongoing and escalating violence in Syria. So far, the UN has been unable to successfully find a position on Syria, with China and Russia leading the dissention.

1500 GMT: Journalist Jonathan Rashad provides this picture, the first visual proof that arrests have been made in Tahrir Square, a report we've been hearing for the last hour or so.

1456 GMT: This picture, just in, shows the military armed with batons, readying to swing at protesters in Tahrir Square:

1449 GMT: Al Jazeera's latest update on Tahrir Square:

The authorities are saying they had asked the Tahrir Square demonstrators to allow traffic to move through the square after local shopkeepers had clashed with the protestors for closing off their businesses.

The demonstrators had refused so the military moved in at 3pm local time flattening the tents and driving away all revolutionaries from the square.

The 6th April Youth Movement says the military didn't just storm the square. They also attacked the mosque where the protestors had run to take shelter. - Al Jazeera's Sue Turton.

1447 GMT: The latest video from Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, where the military has cleared the protesters:

1420 GMT: The Syrian State News Agency (SANA) is reporting that it is the military that has come under attack by armed groups, there are no tanks in Hama, and 6 soldiers have been killed in the fighting:

An official military source stated that after armed terrorist groups cut off main and side roads in the city of Hama and attempted to isolate and suffocate it after cutting of highways connecting it to other provinces, a number of army units attempted to open the external roads connecting the city to the surrounding areas in order to restore normal life in it.

The source pointed out that while army units were carrying out this task, they were attacked by medium firearms while armed terrorist groups burned a number of police, army and security forces stations and vandalized public facilities.

The source said that these armed terrorist groups will be dealt with according to the developments, noting that all that was said about tanks entering the city of Hama is completely false.

1413 GMT: Meanwhile, Syrian's President, Bashar al Assad, has praised the military for defending Syria against its enemies. According to the Syrian State News Agency, SANA,

Assad pointed out that the conspirators wished to cause sedition, but the Syrian people proved bigger than plots and managed to end sedition and make a responsible stand to explore the areas of weakness and deal with them, opening prospects of comprehensive reform that will not stop despite the financial, technological, diplomatic, media and military resources that are deployed against Syria.

1400 GMT: Damage to a mosque in Hama, and the ammunition that did that damage, clearly heavy military ammunition:

1357 GMT: The freedom fighters are now 9km into Zliten, Libya. The latest, and intense, video from the front:

1349 GMT: Reuters is reporting that four people have been killed in Hama so far (updated since 1333).

1341 GMT: Back to Egypt's Tahrir Square.

NPR's Andy Carvin has this reaction: "An hour ago, these piles of cloth were protester tents."

Also this, another sign of how quickly the scene in Egypt has changed in the last hour:

Completely deserted, just outside the square. RT @norashalaby: Road into #tahrir from qasr el nil open

1333 GMT: As the smoke literally settles in Egypt, let's turn to Syria.

At least three people have been killed so far this morning as the Syrian military shells Hama for the second day in a row. A protester was also killed today in Deir Ez Zor. Sources for the New York Times are reporting that the military is focusing its tanks on the Al-Qousour and Al-Hamidiya neighborhoods.

In Al bu Khamal, near the border with Iraq, the Syrian military has reportedly begun conducting raids as well.

Though activists in the city are reporting that it is quieter in the last few hours in Hama, Al Jazeera has this report about Hama.

1326 GMT: Al Jazeera has this report from Tahrir Square, as we try to confirm reports of injuries:

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reporting from Tahrir, said: "There was a split when it came to protesters who wanted to stay and those who wanted to move out.

"There were a good 200 to 300 people who were still camped out earlier. Now it's filled with tanks and army soldiers.

"They've essentially driven out all the people. There do seem to be some civilians moving around but the army is continuing to move out anyone trying to get back into the square."

1321 GMT: Though the violence in Egypt is not excusable, some are already asking whether it could have been prevented. An activist in Egypt has this assessment:

Last night there was a proposal to open traffic but continue the sit-in, which was unfortunately turned down.

1317 GMT: There is a report that an ambulance is needed at Omar Makram Mosque in Cairo where a 15 year old boy is injured.

An activist has this assessment:

The 1st day of Ramadan and #SCAF decide to violently attack protesters on #Tahrir.Sound grenades, gun shots, tear gas, beatings.Why?!

1310 GMT: Activists are reporting that the police are beating anyone with a camera or cell phone.

Al Jazeera Arabic is reporting that soldiers carrying batons are trying to get people out of Omar Makram Mosque. There is a report that others are stuck in the METRO.

1306 GMT: It's a chaotic scene in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt. Andy Carvin's Tweets give an idea of the scene, where gunshots are reported as the military is storming the square:

Crowd forming a cordon on a street at the entrance to Tahrir. A mix of soldiers, security and civilians in the square. Another gunshot.

More gunshots. One. Two. Three.

Are you ok? RT @lilianwagdy: i was assaulted by a military officer and people threw water at me left tahrir

Warning shots. I don't see tear gas clouds. Can anyone confirm? RT @Zeinobia: What is the hell this sound !?

Tahrir now looks like a wholesale cloth market. Piles of cloth all over the ground, people pulling around.

1300 GMT: Within the last several minutes, activists in Tahrir Square are reporting that the military has moved in. Updates coming soon.

Moments before, this picture shows activists forming a human shield to prevent the military from taking the square.

1257 GMT: James Miller reporting for duty. We've only been offline for an hour and a half, and it's been a busy day.

First, this picture of the military in Bab Ellouq, right outside of Tahrir Square, Cairo:

1115 GMT: Al Jazeera English's James Bays reports, "Opposition fighters still in frontline position around Tiji. Qaddafi forces still holding the town", the last regime holdout in the western mountains of Libya.

Meanwhile, Reuters offers a snapshot from Ghazaia, taken by the insurgents last week:

Rebels who seized the government-held town of Ghazaia in Libya's Western Mountain in a new offensive describe themselves as "liberators", but there were no cheers when they rolled in.

Its estimated 5,000 residents, supporters of Muammar Gaddafi, had been transported to his stronghold Tripoli by his militiamen, leaving behind a ghost town.

"We would have liked to have been welcomed here. These people all liked Gaddafi. They benefitted from him," said a rebel named Majdi, standing beside rows of houses built by Libyans aided by soft loans from the government.

0900 GMT: A witness in Deir Ez Zor in northeastern Syria tells Al Jazeera English that military attacks are continuing:

0800 GMT: More official explanation from Syrian authorities of Sunday's developments --- a military source is used by state news agency SANA:

After armed terrorist groups cut off main and side roads in the city of Hama and attempted to isolate and suffocate it after cutting of highways connecting it to other provinces, a number of army units attempted to open the external roads connecting the city to the surrounding areas in order to restore normal life in it.

The source pointed out that while army units were carrying out this task, they were attacked by medium firearms while armed terrorist groups burned a number of police, army and security forces stations and vandalized public facilities.

The source said that these armed terrorist groups will be dealt with according to the developments, noting that all that was said about tanks entering the city of Hama is completely false.

SANA claimed six members of law enforcement forces "were martyred in confrontations with armed groups" in Hama and Deir Ez Zor. It asserted that "scores of gunmen were stationed on the rooftops of the main buildings" of Hama, "carrying machine guns and RPGs and shooting intensively to terrorize citizens".

0700 GMT: President Assad made no public statement yesterday on the events in Syria. However, we do have the benefit of his thoughts in a Sunday article, recording his recent speech to officers and troops on Army Day, about defeating "conspiracy":

Syria is used to creating victories and defeating the enemies of the country and nation....Today we are more determined to follow the course of dignity with sure steps based on personal abilities....It knows how to do it to add new victories and leave warmongers and blood merchants to taste the bitterness of defeat and disappointment....

This vicious attack won't fare any better than the previous ones… all of Syria's honest people are confident that we will emerge from the crisis more powerful, more present and more effective regionally and internationally.

0600 GMT: The nightly ritual of small protests continues in Bahrain --- this clip is from Karrana on the northern coast:

0555 GMT: Sunday's epicentre --- Syrian soldiers behind a barricade in Hama:

0500 GMT: On Sunday, the Assad regime in Syria --- using the pretext of restoring control in areas terrorised by "armed gunmen" --- took the deadliest of gambles. It moved tanks and troops into several areas, notably Syria's fourth-largest city Hama and Deir Ez Zor in the northeast. 

In the 4 1/2 months of the uprising, the regime has taken similar steps, ringing locations where there have been massive protests and sending in military raids, but this time the scale and the bloodshed weregreater. An activist in Hama described the early-morning start of the operation, "They started shooting with heavy machines guns at civilians, at the young men protecting the barricades. People started to scream, to say Allahu Akbar and wake each other up. They started to come down into the streets."

By the end of the day, an estimated 142 people were dead, at least 100 of them in Hama.

Today we watch for the follow-up. Has the regime re-taken "lost" cities in which protest had effectively driven out security forces and threatened to establish alternative authorities? Or has it merely poured more fuel on the fire of uprising?

Last night, initial responses came from across Syria as thousands reportedly turned out in rallies to express anger and sympathy for the victims of the military operations. A rally in Ghouta in Homs:

In Harasta outside Damascus:

Maarat al-Nu'man in the northwest:

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