Yesterdays Liveblog, Syria, Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Prayers, Protests, and Pressures
1911 GMT: Al Jazeera offers their latest summary of the events in Syria, which echos much of our own coverage:
1907 GMT: This video was reportedly taken today in Homs, where State Run SANA TV claims 1 soldier was killed. In the video, we see plain-clothed Shabiha ("ghosts", paramilitary) walking along with Syrian military and firing at unseen targets. None of the Syrian security forces seem too nervous, as if their targets are unarmed. I repeat a question posed by an activist earlier, do these people look like they are being shot at?
1842 GMT: Multiple sources and activists are reporting that Joabr, Damascus, has been sealed off by security forces.
1839 GMT: A video claiming to show a large protest today in Hama:
1835 GMT: Activists protest at a funeral procession for Shahid Bilal in Zakia, Damascus:
1828 GMT: An activist shares this picture, uploaded minutes ago, reportedly showing a protester blocking a police convoy in Sitra, Bahrain. We cannot vouch for the validity of the picture or the details:
The arrest of Mohmed Ibrahim Al-hayiki(who arrived @ the Pearl Roundabout),he was tortured by members of the National Guard #Bahrain #LULU
They have also posted this video, which is important and dramatic, even though they failed to note that this was taken in Sanabis Bahrain on August 31st, not today:
1730 GMT: An activist pulls a video that was uploaded to the social media site Newsmob.net that shows Syrian soldiers casually firing live ammunition into buildings. The video claims to be Homs, and was uploaded on August 26th, but the activist is was referencing it based on our previous report, that SANA is claiming a soldier was killed in Homs today. The activist's comment, "Does it look like they are taking fire?"
1721 GMT: Al Jazeera is reporting that the Syrian State TV is claiming 1 soldier was killed in the Babs Amr district of Homs. While we haven't seen any evidence to back this claim ,we also haven't seen any sign that "armed gangs" are actually using guns against Assad troops. Al Jazeera is also reporting that 2 people have been killed today in clashes in Irbeen, Damascus:
Two people have been killed as security forces opened fire on a fuenral in Arbeen, a Damascus suburb, an activist said.
Hundreds of people had gathered, mourning four protesters killed yesterday.
We are living in a vicious circle,” the activist, who was present at the funeral, told Al Jazeera. “The regime kills protesters, then kills those who mourn them.
“We shouted yesterday that we prefer to die than to live in humiliation. Today, we insist on this slogan again.”
Meanwhile puzzling update from a reliable source, a man who calls himself Alexander Page, who has been in contact with Western Media:
2 civilians shot dead by Assad forces in a house to house search for Attorney General Adnan Bakkour in Maarat Hourmi of #Idlib
1714 GMT: Another video from Douma, and important suburb of Damascus, where another protest at another funeral is being held, this one for Mohammad Al-Shamy who allegedly died of torture at the hands of the regime:,/p>
1521 GMT: The video from Douma is amazing, but this protest in Jobar, at a funeral for Ayman Hamraoui who was killed by Assad forces yesterday, is only 2 kilometers from the old city walls.
1511 GMT: James Miller takes the wheel. Thanks to Ali Yenidunya for taking us to the afternoon.
In my first entry of the day, I stressed how impressed I was with yesterdays protests. Well, take one look at this video, a funeral for a martyr, Mohammed Bashir al-Shami, killed yesterday by security forces in Douma, Damascus, less than 5 miles from the center of the capital (MAP):
1410 GMT: Activists add that security forces carried out a random campaign of arrests in the Bayada neighbourhood in Homs, in the early morning.
1405 GMT: Another video showing the funeral of a Syrian killed in Damascus yesterday.
1400 GMT: Videos showing the funerals of two Syrians killed in Idlib yesterday.
1340 GMT: The main street of the Jbaileh neighbourhood of Deir ez-Zor is witnessing a campaign of arrests, according to activists.
Besides, activists from the Coalition of a Free Damascus for Peaceful Change (CFDPC) said that security forces have opened fire on mourners of Aiman Hamrawi’s funeral in the Damascus suburb of Jobar, when the funeral turned into a protest march.
1330 GMT: Is Bani Walid joining the opposition forces? During a news conference in Tripoli, Ali Tarhouni, the interim oil minister, said: "The military council in Tripoli has just informed me a few minutes ago that there's a possibility that Bani Walid will join the revolutionaries and it's under the control of the revolutionaries." \
When asked if Gaddafi was in the town of Bani Walid, as NTC military commanders have said they believe, Tarhouni said only: "As for Gaddafi himself...we know where he is."
1310 GMT: Libya's National Transitional Council is to restart oil production at the Misla and Sarir fields on September 12th or 13th.
1300 GMT: According to documents revealed by AP, the CIA worked closely with Moammar Gadhafi's intelligence services in the rendition of terror suspects to Libya for interrogation. One of those terros suspects was Abdel Hakim Belhaj. He said that he was tortured by CIA agents at a secret prison, then returned to Libya (See 1230 GMT).
Meanwhile, other documents obtained by The Globe and Mail showe that state-controlled Chinese arms manufacturers were prepared to sell weapons and ammunition worth at least $200-million to Gaddafi in late July, a violation of United Nations sanctions.
1255 GMT: According to Al Jazeera English's James Bays, Libya's National Transitional Council has set up Supreme Security Committee for Tripoli, chaired by the Finance Minister Ali Tarhouni.
1240 GMT: Qestion marks are following Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoglu's statement on Friday that "Turkey, the country with the longest coastal line, will take every measure for security of navigation in Eastern Mediterranean".
Turkish diplomats told the Hurriyet Daily News that the Turkish Navy will be more visible in the eastern Mediterranean through regular patrolling in international waters. “A more aggressive strategy will be pursued. Israel will no longer be able to exercise its bullying practices freely,” one said. Could this move bring a dog fight in Mediterranean or a Turkish Navy's excort to another Gaza-bound aid ships in the future?
Besides, another diplomatic source added that PM Erdogan is planning a visit to Gaza, something he voiced in late July. He said:
Our prime minister has already instructed the Foreign Ministry to set a date for the visit. We are looking for the best timing for the visit. Our primary purpose is to draw the world’s attention to what is going on in Gaza and to push the international community to end the unfair embargo imposed by Israel.
On the other hand, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged both countries to mend ties. He said:
Both countries are very important countries in the region and their improving relationship, normal relationship, will be very important in addressing all the situations in the Middle East, including the Middle East peace process
Given the facts that while Syria is boiling and Israel is perceived as a "potential threat", Turkey has lost its "mediation" role between these two countries for the time being. So, the question is that how is this going to affect Turkey's "zero-problem" policy?
1230 GMT: Abdel Hakim Belhaj, a military commander of Libya's National Transitional Council and a former leader of the Libyan Islamic fighting group who he fought in Afghanistan and arrested by CIA, has been described as an Islamic extremist. Al Jazeera speaks to him in Libya and Belhaj puts the blame on the post-9/11 policies of Washington.
1130 GMT: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned sanctions imposed on Syria by the European Union. He said: "We have always said that unilateral sanctions will lead to nothing good. This ruins the partnership approach to any crisis."
0930 GMT: Russia invited National Transitional Council to Moscow to discuss the future of Russian energy contracts in the country. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said:
We will discuss all of this. They (Libya's interim government) offered to hold contacts, and we have invited their respective representatives to Moscow, at their request.
0900 GMT: It is Ali Yenidunya taking over the Live Blog for a while. Giving a speech in Australia, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all nations to help stabilise Libya but said the future of the country should be decided by its own people. He said:
I continue to urge all countries to come together to help the Libyan people. The future of Libya should be decided by Libyan people. We are working to make sure that the United Nations can respond quickly to requests by the Libyan authorities.
This includes restoring public security and order and promoting rule of law, promoting inclusive political dialogue... and protecting human rights, particularly for vulnerable groups. We are working closely with the country's leadership to ensure that confusion and duplication of effort are kept to a minimum.
0744 GMT: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an unmovable object? Arab Spring Syria. James Miller is exhausted, and will return with a more complete analysis in a few hours, but will start off with this summary:
Yesterday there were two impressive shows, the first being the scale of the protests and the second being the scale of the opposition. Protesters are turning Homs, Hama, Daraa, Douma, Zamalka, Horan, Qalamoun, and Idlib into household names, reliable locations where protests, ranging from a few hundred people to tens of thousands, occur not just every Friday, but nearly every day. In the last few weeks, and especially this week, we're seeing new locations (especially around Daraa and Aleppo) that are putting up more consistent, and larger, protests. In the last two days, protests around the key cities of Aleppo and Damascus, both in the suburbs and in the outskirts, have pushed closer and closer to the center of these cities.
It is possible that if large protests, ranging in scale from the mid to high hundreds or even thousands, can push into center of these cities, there will be a "Tripoli effect." In other words, we have seen plenty of video showing consistently massive (and growing) security forces on the streets of these cities. If a certain threshold of protesters can be met, it is possible that supporters of the opposition who have been too afraid to protest will finally join the protest.
Meanwhile, we've never seen the security so on edge across the entire country, including in Damascus and Aleppo. There is strong video evidence of tanks being positioned in many hotspots (most especially Idlib and Deir Ez Zor), and in Damascus the number of military surrounded some mosques exceeded the amount of worshipers.
20 people were reportedly killed.
So, the protesters, the defections, and international economic forces are all turning the heat up on Syria. The regime remains defiant. What happens next?