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Libya, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Preparing to Fight for Bani Walid

Al Jazeera English's assessment of the fight for Bani Walid in Libya

0125 GMT: Activists say Syrian security forces have killed at least nine people and arrested dozens in the central cities of Hama and Homs and in the northwestern province of Idlib.

A spokesman of the Local Coordination Committees said dozens of troops backed by at least 30 military vehicles and security forces raided Hama, with a similar operation in Homs that caused the nine deaths, while about 100 people were rounded up in Idlib Province.

Activists based in northern Lebanon also reported sounds of heavy shelling in the Wadi Khaled, an area facing the Syrian town of Tal Kalakh.

The operations occurred as the Syrian regime granted access to the International Committee of the Red Cross to the Damascus Central Prison, in the suburb of Adra.

1856 GMT: Two videos show a Syrian sniper on the roof of a building, preparing to shoot. According to someone on Twitter, the translation is as follows:

Someone off camera asks the sniper, "could you shoot her? If you shoot her you are a real hero, but if not you are a coward." The sniper then said yes, and he takes the shot.

1853 GMT: Al Jazeera has a report of a major defection in Libya:

The head of Muammar Gaddafi's security brigades, Mansour Dhao, has crossed into Niger from Libya and is due to travel on to the Nigerien capital, Niamey, two Nigerien officials said on Monday.

The officials, who asked not to be named, said Dhao and about a dozen other Libyans crossed into Niger on Sunday after several days of talks while they waited at the border. - Reuters

1829 GMT: Of course, I could be wrong about that being the BIGGEST controversy. New documents discovered in Libya directly implicate British security services MI5 and MI6, as well as the CIA, of colluding with the Qaddafi government:

1832 GMT: An eventful day so far in Syria has stood in our way of reporting much on Libya. Luckily (and unfortunately) the rest of the media seems to be ignoring the Syrian story and is focusing solely on Libya. As a result, Al Jazeera gets us caught up.

The biggest controversy today may be the news that China, Algeria, South Africa (and possibly others) may have helped Qaddafi's regime acquire weapons:

1813 GMT: Warning, this is a graphic video. It claims to show soldiers surrounding the body of Abdul Salam Hassoun Asadi, a military sniper who who defected and was attempting to flee into Turkey. The video is apparently taken by soldiers in Bdama, Idlib province, moments after he has been shot in the head. There is a second, more graphic video, where the cameraman speaks, but we have no translation at this moment.

We have no way of verifying the details behind these videos.

1803 GMT: Back from a work break to find this video, claiming to show protests in the Assali neighborhood of Damascus (approximate location on map):

1509 GMT: More video, bullet holes riddle a car in Homs. Also, extremely graphic video, the body of Omar Shahin, killed in Thtaya (SP?) village in Idlib province. This man appears to have been shot with something a lot larger than an AK-47, suggesting that he was hit was an heavy machine gun?

1500 GMT: How bad are things in Homs? Residents are reporting mass evacuations, but the traffic is backing up. According to the reports, there is usually very little traffic in the mid-afternoon, but this video shows a massive traffic jam in Ghouta Street, where people trying to flee are being bottlenecked by others with the same idea, security checkpoints, tanks, and buses filled with security forces.

1444 GMT: Speaking of the Khalidaya district of Homs, we have reports of a new wave of raids on the neighborhood, and two videos, reportedly taken today, showing heavy security in the area:

1438 GMT: These protesters in the Qusour District of Homs are protesting in solidarity with the heavily occupied Khalidaya district, where so many have been wounded and killed in recent days:

1431 GMT: The video shows protesters challenging tanks, shouting protests within 30-50 meters of a heavy armed military convoy in Ankhel, Daraa. Scenes like this were rare even a few weeks ago, but we are seeing more and more examples, especially in areas away from the major cities, that either soldiers have been ordered not to fire, or they have just refused to fire, on protesters:

1404 GMT: This video reportedly shows the heavy security presence, and gunfire in the background, in the Deir neighborhood of Homs (we think around here):

1347 GMT: Three reports about the Hama Attorney General, Adnan Bakkour, who defected from the Syria regime last week, releasing a Youtube video in which he condemned the regime's violent tactics and revealed a whole host of horrors that had occurred in Hama's Central Prison.

The first report, Al Arabiya reported very early this morning that Bakkour had escaped to Cyprus. The second report, by the AP, that Syrian soldiers and police are conducting widespread house-to-house raids in towns and villages near the Turkey border, in an attempt to find Bakkour, would seem to contradict this first claim.

The third report is perhaps the most important one. In an audio address released today, a man claiming to be Bakkour says that the Syrian security forces nearly caught him on Saturday, and he was slightly wounded by shrapnel but managed to get away. If this report is verified, it will fly in the face of Syrian State TV SANA's report, that Bakkour is captured by terrorists and the soldiers are trying to free him.

1340 GMT: These videos reportedly shows tanks deployed in the Al-Warshe district of Homs, where heavy gunfire can be heard:

1330 GMT: Defection day? The reliably reliable Shaam News reports that there were many defections in Homs as well.

And James needs to hop in with some analysis. First, a disclaimed. With activists dying in the streets by scores, a single soldier defecting feels like a major victory to the activists. We've been hearing about defections since March, but so far it has been a very tiny trickle, a few here, 1 or 2 there. There is evidence, during the siege of Hama and Jisr al Shughour a few months ago, of whole units, or parts of whole units, defecting. The military then killed these soldiers, according to dissidents, when they refused to fire on civilians, though the government claims these men were killed by "armed gangs."

So is this any different?

Yes. First of all, some of these organizations and activists have been happy to report "Waves of defections" but have tempered their own enthusiasm with a count, or even a list of names. This is the first time that we have seen them report on defections on such a scale. Also, it appears that the defections are happening all at once, and in various regions across the country.

It's way too soon to assume that this is some major coup, but what it does show is that Assad does not have a totalitarian grip on his army. The most important thing it shows, however, is that the daily violence and deaths have not deterred the protesters, but they have started to have palpable impacts on the military.

1314 GMT: As another comment pointed out, a reliable source Tweets an interesting, though unconfirmed, report on defections in the now infamous Jisr al Shughour, Idlib:

Idlib: Jisr Al Shaghour: Army defections at checkpoint of Christian district junction & clashes between defected sodiers & sec forces-Dangerous wounds-Defections also at Orchard entrance & violent clashes there

1306 GMT: James Miller takes the liveblog, and he has some VERY interesting news. Reportedly, there have been gunfights at a Syrian airport as soldiers have begun to defect:

Heavy gunfire and loud explosions were heard early on Monday in al-Maza military airport on the outskirts of the Syrian capital amid reports of defections among army forces in the area, an activist told Al Arabiya.

Bashir al-Dimashqi, a pro-democracy activist from Damascus, said told Al Arabiya that army helicopters were seen flying near the airport and firing on defected army units.

Dimashqi said defections among army forces were not uncommon in the area and that soldiers who refuse orders to fire on protesters are often killed.

This past Friday, several army units defected in the Damascus suburbs of Douma, Harasta and Kfar Batna.

Al Arabiya also reports renewed military campaigns against Hama and Homs, where 2 people have been killed. 15 people were reportedly injured on Sunday in Homs alone, and 24 people died country wide.

Some of you have commented below on this below, and we'd be lost without the great comments, so thank you.

1230 GMT: Demonstrators have scuffled with police outside the Egyptian court where the trial of former President Hosni Mubarak resumed on Monday.

Mubarak, in hospital since April with heart problems and otherailments, was wheeled on a gurney into a metal defendants' cage in the court at the Cairo Police Academy.

There was live coverage of first two sessions of Mubarak's trial last month, but Judge Ahmed Refaat has now banned television cameras.

Hundreds of victims' families and protesters tried to break through the main gates and enter the court building. Black-clad anti-riot police swung batons at the protesters, who hurled stones at the security forces. Metal barricades being thrown, and hundreds of police chased young men in the streets.

Ramadan Ahmed Abu, the father of a slain protester, said he applied for permission to attend the session. "People are very frustrated," he said. "We said OK when the judge decided to ban the broadcast of the trial but we want to see it ourselves."

There was also a display by supporters who held up posters of the former President as they chanted, "He gave us 30 years of protection, Mubarak hold your head up high."

Today's session features testimony by senior police officers about operations. Mubarak, on trial with his sons Gamal and Alaa, a businessman, as well as former Interior Minister Habib Al-Adly and six police officers, is charged with ordering the shooting of protesters during the January uprising against his rule.

Attorneys have filed motions to summon more than 1,000 witnesses in the trial, including Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces and Mubarak's Minister of Defense.

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