2045 GMT: In Bahrain, five leading opposition parties have announced a mass rally on Friday, begining at 4:30 p.m. local time, " We Demand Democracy":
EA sources report demonstrations across the country tonight including Muhaza, Sufala, Wadian, Sanabis, Aldaih, Karbabad, Dar-Khulaib, Alhamalah, Barbar, Buri, and Al Eker. A photo from Sanabis this evening:
And video from Dar-Khulaib:
Claimed footage last night of a clash in Sufala village in Sitra:
2043 GMT: This video was reportedly taken in Bayada, Homs, today. According to the report, 28 armored vehicles were deployed to the area during the late afternoon:
Homs: Rastan: Many injuries among civilians following continuous gunfire. It is impossible to treat the wounded after the military has hit the clinic and the welfare association and the Shabiha conquering it
1851 GMT: DEFINING defiance, these videos claim to have been taken within the last few hours in the Syrian city of Homs, a city nearly surrounded by tanks, helicopters, and soldiers. This first video was reportedly taken in the Bab Aamr district, in the city proper. The protesters chant support for the nearby city of Rastan, under nearly constant attack for days, and they also sing a new song: "Where are the Arabs?"
Another large and defiant crowd, this one in al Qusour, Homs. We're not exactly sure on the translation, but one of the chants appears to be "Bashar is the acne of Homs."
"Saudi King Abdullah has revoked the sentence of 10 lashes imposed on a woman for driving, according to a Saudi princess on Twitter-AFP"
The sentence was just handed down this week, despite claims by the Saudi royal family that conditions for women would improve. Now, it has perhaps been commuted.
Turkish officials speaking on condition of anonymity said sanctions will address “military and financial issues as well as energy sectors between the two countries,” the report added.
1839 GMT: According to the Shaam News Netwrok, 18 defected soldiers have been killed by the Syrian military in Homs today. This number will be hard to verify, but expect video to be released over the next few days showing the bodies, and possibly the funerals.
1833 GMT: Dramatic video. These two clips, taken from different angles, claim to show the Syrian military bombarding a residential neighborhood near the center of the citadel in Talbiseh, Homs:
1820 GMT: James returns from a break to find a development in Libya. National Transitional Council fighters are claiming that they have taken the airport in the embattled Qaddafi stronghold of Sirte. It is unclear if they have full control over the airport, or whether they are still taking fire. Indications remain that the pro-Qaddafi forces are still putting up quite a fight in the city.
Perhaps another condemnation is not news. What is news, however, is Burt's acknowledgment that the Syrian military is using tanks and helicopters in the fight, and his failure to mention the deserting soldier who appear to be firing back. Let's not read into this too much, but if the British view the defecting soldiers as "defending civilians" who are under attack from "helicopters and tanks" then this reminds me of a situation, mentioned in the title of this liveblog, that just occurred not too far from Syria. We'll have to see if other Westerners start to talk about Syria in the same way they talked about Libya.
1512 GMT: We literally just posted a video of students protesting in Enkhel (Inkhel), Idlib province, and then we find this leaked video, showing tanks moving into the area:
1503 GMT: James picks up on a theme that he brought up at the close of the day yesterday. While the army defectors appear to be taking the fight back to Assad's military, the majority of the protest video that we continue to see features non-violent marches, not dissimilar from those of the last 6 months.
These students, reportedly in Enkhel, Daraa, protest against the regime:
Families protest in a large crowd in Jarjanaz, Idlib provicne, Syria:
Families in Hass, Idlib Province, chant that they want to "drop the system":
At least 1,000 deserters and armed villagers have been fighting tank- and helicopter-backed forces trying to regain control of Rastan, a town of 40,000, in central Syria.
"They have got a foothold in the southern part of Rastan, but the Free Syrian Army is fighting back and has destroyed three armored vehicles," said one resident by satellite phone.
"Buildings have caught fire in several neighborhoods from tank fire," he said from the town, which lies about 180 km (112 miles) north of Damascus, among farmland and wheat fields on the Orontes River and on the northern highway leading to Aleppo.
1045 GMT: Bahrain's State news agency has now put out the official news on this morning's confirmation of seven life sentences handed down to political activists. Seven others, including opposition figure Ebrahim Sharif, have had sentences of two to 15 years re-affirmed.
The detainess are accused of "plotting to topple the leadership of the Kingdom of Bahrain", by "establishing and managing a terrorist group to overthrow and change the state constitution with joining that group" and "collaboration with a terrorist organization abroad, working for a foreign country in order to commit hostile acts against the Kingdom of Bahrain".
Seven other activists have been given sentences in absentia, one of them a life term and the other six to 15 years in prison.
1025 GMT: In Yemen, opposition tribesmen have reportedly shot down a regime jetfighter as they fight the elite Republican Guard, led by President Saleh's son Ahmed, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Sana'a.
The pilot, who ejected, was captured by tribesmen, witnesses and tribal sources said.
The regime have carried out airstrikes after a general and six other soldiers were killed on Sunday in an attack on a Republican Guard base.
1015 GMT: Al Jazeera English's Zeina Khodr sends messages via Twitter from the Libyan frontline, with fighters of the National Transitional Council trying to take the Qaddafi stronghold of Sirte: "A few hundred fighters taking part in operation aimed at securing southern flank of Sirte, where airport is located. Anti-Gaddafi fighters firing rockets at Sirte airport."
0915 GMT: Journalist Tom Finn reported an hour ago from the Yemeni capital Sana'a on those protesting against President Saleh, "Right now big march toward Saba roundabout where they were shot at on Sunday, today they're shouting 'death, death'. Just asked an old man for his message to Saleh, he said: 'You can't defeat an ocean.'"
0905 GMT: Zainab Alkhawaja is the daughter of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, one of the activists sentenced to life in prison in June in Bahrain. She was in court this morning as a military appeals court ruled on the 14 defendants, seven of them facing life in prison:
Just came out of dad's appeal verdict. The sentence was confirmed --- nothing changed All the 14 activists raised their hands in the sign if victory after the verdict was read....A beautiful sight to see the 14 heroes with their hands raised in victory. Victory will be ours no matter what the oppressors do.
Meanwhile, an EA source reports that a 14-year-old detainee, Abdul Aziz Jaffar, has been freed after facing trial on four charges.
Al-Mahmoudi, who was Prime Minister until the ousting of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in August, was sentenced to six months in prison last week, but an appeals court overturned the conviction. There have been no requests from the Libyan authorities for his extradition, according the Tunisian Ministry of Justice.
Al-Mahmoudi was arrested in Tamaghza in southern Tunisia, near the country's border with Algeria.
Syria could be heading for financial disaster after the government revealed dramatically expanded spending plans for 2012, economists warned yesterday.
With European Union sanctions beginning to bite, on Monday Damascus adopted a budget for next year equivalent to Dh97 billion, an increase of 58 per cent from 2011.
"Where are they going to get the money from to pay for this? That's the big question," said Nabil Sukkar, a leading economist and former World Bank official who now heads an independent think tank in Damascus.
"Our concern is that they are going to start printing money to meet their expenditure, which will lead to serious inflation," he said. "With the economy stagnating that would be an unfortunate situation to find ourselves in."
Another independent Syrian economic analyst was more blunt. "It is hard to see how Syria is doing anything other than walking into an economic disaster," he said. "They are spending more money, money they do not have, at a time when their income has dropped significantly as they have no way of getting credit.
"The numbers do not work. I cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel. I cannot see any way out of this, we will be feeling the effects of this for a long, long time."
There were few details of the budget, announced with little fanfare, but economists said day-to-day expenditure, including fuel subsidies and payment for expanded security operations, would make up more than 70% of expenditure.
Despite the economic gloom, neither analyst in the article expected political transformation. "This will not topple the regime," the independent economist said. "The business community isn't happy about any of it but they will not turn against the regime, they cannot, they will not."
0720 GMT: Claimed footage of people on the streets of Anadan in Aleppo Province in Syria this morning, protesting at military operations in the area:
One NTC commander, Touhami Zayani, said Tuesday that he was in talks with elders inside the city about a truce, but the head of another anti-Qaddafi force, Omar Al-Qatrany, rejected negotiations.
Meanwhile, clashes continued for a second day at a roundabout 2 kilometres (1.25 miles) east of the town centre, with anti-Gaddafi fighters pinned down by intense sniper and artillery fire. The NTC forces brought up reinforcements to the roundabout to try to break through, including two tanks and about a dozen trucks carrying infantry. Snipers, though, held up the advance, forcing the attackers to take cover behind metal shipping containers.
Seven people, including two NTC commanders shot by snipers, were killed and at least 40 wounded, according to medical staff.
0640 GMT: There is an intriguing --- but, I suspect, little-noticed --- column in Tuesday's Guardian of London. Amidst reports of divisions within the opposition-turned-leaders of Libya, the commander of the National Transitional Council's military in Tripoli, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, does not try to ease the talk of tensions:
Only a transparent political system can establish a democratic government that will ensure the participation of all Libyans. We must resist attempts by some Libyan politicians to exclude some of the participants in the revolution. They are unable to see the huge risks of such exclusion, or the serious nature of the reaction of the excluded parties.
After what we have suffered under Gaddafi, we are determined not to allow any individual or entity to monopolise the management of the country lest it lead to a rebirth of a new dictatorship....
What worries us is the attempt of some secular elements to isolate and exclude others. Libya's Islamists have announced their commitment to democracy; despite this, some reject their participation and call for them to be marginalised. It is as though they want to push Islamists towards a non-democratic option by alienating and marginalising them. We will not allow this: all Libyans are partners in this revolution and all should be part of building the future of this country.
0630 GMT: Bahrain's Ministry of Interior, amidst the opposition's attempt at a "Chain of Dignity" protest on the country's highways (see 0520 GMT), puts out the message via Twitter, "Normal traffic flow on all the Kingdom's roads."
According to a senior US official, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been undergoing medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, “bolted the kingdom under the pretence of going to the airport for something else”.
Neither the US nor the Saudis were aware of his planned departure, said the official, calling it a “clever, canny” trick by the president. “We are not happy at all,” he added.
Other western officials have also expressed frustration at Mr Saleh’s return to Yemen, with two different versions of his flight circulating in diplomatic circles. One says he told the Saudis he had decided to move to Ethiopia; the other suggests he went to the airport on the pretence of seeing off other Yemeni officials. Saudi officials could not be reached for comment. They have previously described Mr Saleh as a “guest” whose movements were not restricted. A Yemeni government official strongly denied that Mr Saleh had evaded the Saudis at the airport, describing the claim as “baseless”.
Gregory Johnsen offers a sharp --- and appropriate --- response:
Yes, stuck in Saudi Arabia, which has never met a dictator it didn't want to host, Salih told them he wanted to leave Arabia and move to Africa. Say that out loud to yourself a couple of time and you will begin to understand how implausible the cover story is.
Something like a teenager convincing his parents he wants the keys on a Friday night to go grocery shopping for the family.
But as bad and as foolish as the Saudis come off in the piece, the US and the west fares even worse and, sadly, largely as the result of quotes from unnamed officials.
0520 GMT: In Bahrain, it is the third morning of the "Chain of Dignity" protests, in which activists seek to slow movement on the main highways. One of the many photos of traffic jams circulating at the moment:
We will also be watching for news of the hearing in a military appeals court for 14 opposition activists. Seven of them have been given life sentence in prison and the others, including prominent political figure Ebrahim Sharif, have received sentences of two to 15 years.
We have been writing for weeks of a "new normal" of demonstrations, clashes, and deaths at the security forces, and Miller again noted the "large, peaceful protests in many areas of the country". However, he observed --- on a Tuesday, not a Friday --- that they were "larger than they have been in recent memory, perhaps signalling a renewed commitment to resistance". And then there was this:
There is now evidence that defecting Syrian soldiers have employed violence against the pro-Assad military. Eyewitness reports, and the intense video below, suggest that at least parts of the opposition are changing tactics, seeking to take up arms against a regime that has killed perhaps more than 3000 civilians since the start of this conflict. If this is true, it means that Syria has taken a step towards, at best, a Libyan-style civil war.