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Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Raising Shoes to Assad

See Also Syria Video Special: The Destruction of Deir Ez Zor

Syria Video Analysis: Assessing Propaganda and "Truth" on Both Sides
Bahrain Video: How to Confuse Security Forces --- Use a Laser Pointer
Tuesday's Libya, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Turmoil in the West, Turmoil in the East

2030 GMT: Night videos from Syria are coming in --- some of them are too dark to feature, but they include a march in Talbiseh in the south sympathising with the victims of Homs and the burning of a picture of President Assad in Jableh on the coast.

Kafranbel in the northwest:

1959 GMT: The rights group Avaaz is reporting that at least 35 people have been arrested in Albukamal, Deir Ez Zor province, in a series of raids and mass arrests.

1954 GMT: The death toll in Homs today, according to Rula Amin, has been updated to 18. This potentially means that a total of 26 people, or more, have been killed nation wide today.

This video claims to show a funeral procession for one of the martyrs killed today:

1844 GMT: We've posted some spectacular footage in a separate video entry, Syria Video Special: The Destruction of Deir Ez Zor.

1832 GMT: Now we turn to Libya. Colonel Gaddafi's forces have a serious oil problem. Tunisian forces seized 5 truckloads of gasoline, destined for Gaddafi-occupied Libya, on the Tunisian border today. Petroleum smuggling has become rampant on the border, but most of it is being done in smaller quantities, and most of the smuggled fuel seems to be being used by civilians. This was one of the first times that the Tunisian military has stopped gasoline from crossing over, as so far they have been content to focus on limiting weapons from crossing over.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi's forces have not received a single oil tanker of fuel in four months, while the opposition has been regularly receiving 3-4 shipments per month. With yesterday's news that another important fuel line has been cut in Gaddafi-controlled Libya, expect the fuel shortages to become a deciding factor in some of the ongoing military campaigns in Libya.

1808 GMT: CNN reports on a mass funeral in Majer, Libya, where the people claim that 85 people have been killed as a result of a NATO airstrike:

1759 GMT: Back from a break to find this video, taken earlier today, showing tanks massing outside Binnish, Idlib Province, Syria:

1647 GMT: SRCU is now reporting that 10 people have been killed today in Homs, and 18 people have been confirmed dead nationwide.

1644 GMT: Earlier we reported that there are at least 8 people killed today in Homs. Now we have a report that there are 7 confirmed dead in the Bab Amr district alone, where the situation has been described as a "real massacre." This Graphic Video claims to show two of the bodies.

1630 GMT: More video, claiming to show tanks remaining in Hama today:

1620 GMT: The Syria Revolution Coordinators' Union (SRCU) is reporting that at least 8 people have been killed today in #Homs alone.

1615 GMT: The LCCS is now confirming the reports of violence in Homs, Syria:

Homs: constant heavy gun fire for half an hour from now by different types of machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons around Al-Basel stadium in Baba Amr neighborhood, and around the automatic backery in Brazil street in Al-Ensha'at neighborhood, and many are wounded

In Sermin, Idlib Province, we reported this morning that there was a fresh, and heavy handed, military campaign launching there. Now the LCCS is reporting casualties there as well:

Idlib: Sermin: Aisha Al Alow was martyred and 3 others injured after a random gunfire from heavy machineguns fixed on tanks entered the city earlier. Snipers are based on the high buildings. The security forces continued to destroy shops burn and damage car

Also, In Saqba, where we showed video of a general strike and reported that there was heavy security, there are now reports of protesters injured by gunshot wounds, including several people under the age of 16.

1609 GMT: Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan has used his strongest language yet to condemn the actions of his Syrian ally, Bashar al Assad:

"In Syria, the state is pointing guns at its own people," he declared. "Turkey's message to Assad is very clear: stop all kinds of violence and bloodshed."

Turkey has sent its ambassador to Hama, and he reports that the military siege on the city is being lifted.

1558 GMT: Egypt's health minister, Amr Helmy, has condemned the death of Egypt's most recent martyr, Mohamed Mohsen Ahmed, and has accused 5 hospitals of "grave negligence" which contributed to Ahmed's death.

"Speaking last night to anchor Yousri Fouda on Egypt's ON TV, Helmi said that hospitals routinely refuse to admit those who need urgent medical care and fail to refer them to medical facilities that could save their lives."

Ahmed was injured during clashes between protesters and the military on July 23, in the Cairo district of Abbassiya. His friends took him to 5 hospitals, all of which denied him access to care.

Ahram News is carrying an excellent account of the incident here.

1553 GMT: There are unconfirmed reports of new casualties in Homs, where a very large protest has taken place, stemming from a series of funerals for martyrs killed yesterday in the city. This has become a self-perpetuating cycle, where mourners are killed at a funeral, sparking more funerals and more martyrs.

1530 GMT: A truce has been reached between tribal forces and the government of Yemen in the city of Taiz, the country's second largest city. For months, protesters have been camped in the center of the city, and the armed tribesmen moved into the city to protect the protesters from the army and police.

Representatives of the tribes, the youth protesters, and the local authorities negotiated the agreement on Tuesday. The Republican Guard units assigned to the city will withdraw to their barracks, the tribes will withdraw from the streets, and police will be allowed to deploy in the city.

1500 GMT: While Hama's situation is disputed, Deir Ez Zor is still under attack. In this dramatic video, the top of the minaret of the Othman bin Afan mosque is blown off by military shelling of the city. Around the videographer, other signs of destruction are clearly evident.

1454 GMT: Al Jazeera has cancelled several scheduled showing of a documentary on Bahrain, “Shouting in the Dark.” The documentary has drawn criticism from the Bahraini and Saudi governments, and has caused a diplomatic problem for Qatar, who finances Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera has been accused by many of not covering the protests in Bahrain as carefully as the ones in nations less friendly to Qatar, drawing questions about Al Jazeera's independence. The documentary on the abuses of Bahrain's regime, which broadcast for the first time on Thursday, was in part an answer to those criticism, criticisms which will likely be intensified now.

Though Al Jazeera has said that they will still show the documentary on Thursday, followed by a round-table discussion, you can see it anytime on EA Worldview:

See Also: Bahrain Documentary: "Shouting in the Dark" --- Story of an Uprising Suppressed (Al Jazeera English)

1443 GMT: This video appears to be taken in Assi Square, Hama, and claims to show the square at 6 AM. Despite reports that the military has withdrawn, these tanks are still there. It is also important to note that yesterday we ran a series of videos taken from this square by a soldier. It is likely that the videographer is the same person.

1439 GMT: A general strike in Saqba, Damascus, a usually bustling district, where a heavy security presence is reported:

1432 GMT: Three new videos from Homs (one video below, the others here and here), taken today at a funeral for a protester who was killed by Syrian security forces.

1424 GMT: James Miller here, taking the liveblog through the afternoon...

Mission one of every morning is to sort through the videos in my inbox, and there must be hundreds of videos of large protests last night, in Damascus, the suburbs, Homs, Idlib province, Deir Ez Zor, Lattakia... everywhere. Apparently, a thousands (or more) people protesting in the streets is the "new normal" for a Syrian night.

And this video, taken in Douma, an important suburb of Damascus, is the "new normal" for a Syrian day:

We've also received this video, damage from tank shelling near the Osman mosque in Deir Ez Zor, their "new normal."

1330 GMT: Video of a funeral march in the Bab Sbaa section of Homs for Jihad Abbara, who allegedly died during torture after being arrested by security forces:

1325 GMT: The European Union added a Libyan oil firm and government department to a sanctions blacklist today.

The decision, approved by the 27 EU member states, freezes assets in of the al-Sharara oil company and Libya's Organisation for Administrative Affairs, barring bars EU firms from doing business with them.

Almost 50 regime entities, including 39 individuals and six port authorities, are now subject to EU sanctions.

1315 GMT: More than 40 former government ministers and senior Ba'ath Party officials have called on the Syrian regime to stop violence against demonstrators and implement sweeping political reforms.

The group, led by Mohammad Suleman, a former Minister of Information, condemned the regime's handling of a five-month-old national uprising, saying it had put Syria on the road to "catastrophe" and would result either in civil war or foreign intervention: "Continuation of the security solution is not a choice and use of the armed forces, arresting thousands of people, is not acceptable, it puts a stick in the wheel of political change. Military operations block the democratic opening."

Meeting in the wealthy Mezzeh Villas neighbourhood of Damascus, the former officials launched a Democratic National Initiative, with a transitional programme to establish a full parliamentary democracy within a year.

The plan calls for the formation of an interim government, including representatives of the regime and of protesters, to oversee the drafting of a new democratic constitution, new election laws, and new political parties laws.

As an immediate trust-building measure, all political prisoners would be released, provocation by state-run media halted, compensation paid to the families of all those killed, and an investigation carried out into all deaths during the uprising, with those responsible punished.

1310 GMT: A day after his Foreign Minister visited Damascus, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today that he hoped Syria would take steps towards reform within 10-15 days. He claimed that Ankara gave a clear message to President Assad to halt the bloodshed resulting from the repression of pro-democracy protests.

Erdogan said Turkey's Ambassador to Damascus had visited the besieged city of Hama, reporting that tanks were leaving the city.

1245 GMT: Back from an academic break to find the latest on Syrian military operations, this time in the northwest of the country....

Activists claim tanks and armoured vehicles entered Taftanaz and renewed their assault on Sirmeen and Binnish near the Turkish border, killing several people when 12 tanks occupied the towns.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said one woman was killed and 13 people wounded in Taftanaz and Sermin, near the city of Idlib and about 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the Turkish border.

On Tuesday at least three people in Binnish were among more than 20 people reportedly killed by security forces around the country.

Syrian troops also reportedly took control of the northeastern city of Deir Ez Zor following four days of intense shelling and gunfire.

An activist said, "They are shooting anything that moves. The situation is terrible. Bakeries and pharmacies are closed, while food and baby formula are scarce."

Meanwhile, dozens of Syrian army vehicles packed with soldiers left Hama on Wednesday, 10 days after occupying the city in central Syria. Forty personnel carriers decked with Syrian flags rolled out of Hama with soldiers chanting slogans praising President Assad, said a journalist who visited the city on a tour organised by authorities.

An eyewitness in the central city of Hama said about 70 tanks on trucks remained parked at the northern entrance of the city.

Syrian forces moved into Hama after hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the street in a series of anti-regime rallies. State media claimed earlier this week that tanks and troops had been withdrawn.

0815 GMT: Developments in Bahrain....

We are still for confirmation of claims last week that 147 political detainees will be freed by the regime --- the two most prominent releases so far are MPs Jawad Fairooz and Mattar Ibrahim Mattar of the opposition Al Wefaq party, along with lawyer Mohammed Al-Tajir. These were part of 147 who are still being released.

Dr. Cherif Bassiouni, the head of the regime-commissioned Bahrain Independent Investigation Commission, and his team are continuing their enquiry into the events of the uprising in February and March. They have met with political prisoners, and yesterday they saw the remaining medical staff held in prison.

The royal order to transfer the medics' cases from military to regular courts has not been heeded so far. The medics have demanded the speedy transfer to regular courts and the cancellation of all confessions extracted under duress. They are also demanding that the BICI attend the re-investigation.

On Monday, responding to a call by Bassiouni, a military court started a case against two officers accused of killing two protestors. The defendants are charged with manslaughter, punishable by jail terms ranging from 6 months to 3 years. One of the officers refused to attend the hearing, which has been adjourned until 15 August.

Mansoor al-Jamri has been reinstated as Editor-in-Chief of Bahrain's only independent newspaper, Al-Wasat, by the Board. Despite pressure from al-Jamri's opponents, a general meeting of investors on Sunday upheld the decision.

Al-Jamri was dismissed as editor after State media carried out an intense campaign alleged that he had published false information about events in the uprising.

The opposition party Waad has decided to boycott by-elections to be held next September to replace 18 opposition MPs of Al-Wefaq who resigned in February. Al-Wefaq will issue a statement in the coming days.

0645 GMT: The United Nations Security Council has expressed grave concern over a serious deterioration of the economic and humanitarian situation in Yemen. A spokesman read a statement, “The members of the Security Council urged all sides in Yemen to reject violence and show maximum restraint. They called upon all the parties to respect their obligations under applicable international law.”

The Council also called on all parties to urgently seek a solution to the crisis in an inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led process of political transition that meets the needs and aspirations of the Yemeni people for change.

0500 GMT: We open today with a special analysis from James Miller assessing the propaganda and "truth" of videos presented by both sides in the Syrian conflict.

A steady stream of those videos came out yesterday, as activists claimed more than 20 people were killed by the security forces in Hama, Deir Ez Zor, Idlib Province, Homs, Hawleh, and Horan. Last night, more examples of defiance....

Protesters in Homs "raise their shoes" --- a sign of insult --- to President Assad, "We don't love you, you son of a thief!"

And demonstrators in Deir Ez Zor, which has been attacked and occupied by the military in recent days, chant, "How nice to sleep with the sound of Russian tanks."

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