A call from the mosque to the streets of Zabadani in Syria, after the end of five days of fighting
1954 GMT: Bahraini activists are calling for an interesting protest. Starting Thursday night, activists have called for the release of glowing "sky lanterns" across Bahrain for the next three night, part of a peacuful protest against the establishment of the 2012 Bahrain International Airshow.
EA's John Horne has also discovered this funny little video. An activist, dressed in typical "terrorist garb" gives instructions, in a high-pitched voice, on how to build these lanterns... and also, how to cook potatoes.
1917 GMT: The Free Syrian Army has also reportedly clashed with the regular army in Kafer Takharam, Idlib province. According to the report, the FSA killed as many as five soliders, and injured as many as ten more, in an attack that also led to the destruction of a BMP vehicle.
This video has also surfaced, reportedly showing the damage from tank shells that destroyed cars, homes, and businesses. It's not clear whether the FSA attacked after this, or whether the shelling was a response to the offensive action of the FSA. The FSA report, however, is older than the report that shared this video.
1910 GMT: The death toll has increased in Syria. According to LCCS, "17 martyrs until now in Syria by security members and the army gunfire including 5 defected recruits, 2 women and one under torture. 10 martyrs in Homs, 2 in Saqba (Damascus Suburbs) and 2 in Idlib ( Maarat Al-Noman & Jabal Zawiyah) and 1 in Manbej (Aleppo Suburbs) & 1 in Daraa."
These casualties don't appear to include security forces who were reportedly attacked by the Free Syrian Army in Daraa:
The Free Syrian Army clashed with the regime's army which led to the destruction of two security buses and more than 11 of their units were injured or killed, and martyrdom of Lieutenant Colonel and Pilot Hafez Saad Edden Al-Meqdad.
1904 GMT: Today, reports all tell a similar story, Manama, Bahrain, and several other areas covered in teargas after police broke up protests in the Ras Ruman district on Manama. This video claims to show police firing teargas in the city. At one point, devices that could be incendiary grenades were also used. Also, at the end of the video, some members of the youth appear to throw rocks, presumably at the police:
This video was reportedly taken this evening in the village of Sanabis, where evening protests are reported:
1707 GMT: The CFDPC post this video, reportedly taken at a former military checkpoint inm Zabadani. From other videos we've seen, this area looks familiar. The military, however, is nowhere to be seen. The claim is that they have withdrawn from the position. Meanwhile, debris and spent tank shells can be seen littering the road:
1650 GMT: Ahmed Al Omran shares two videos reportedly taken in the Deir Balbe district of Homs. In one video, gunfire echoes over the city for more than 4 minutes. In the video below, the gunfire continues as smoke rises from various locations:
1631 GMT: The Syrian regime, via state TV SANA, has accused the government of Qatar of supplying arms to the opposition, or at least to "armed terrorists."
Qatar's call to send Arab troops to the country "falls within the framework of the negative role played by Qatar since the start of this crisis... through the financing of armed groups," the Tishrin newspaper charged.
The Gulf state "can help Syria get out of its crisis... by stopping its financing of armed (groups) and the trafficking of weapons" to insurgents, wrote the daily.
There are several possible explanations. The Syrian government is angry at Sheikh Hamad Ben Khalifa al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, who announced over the weekend that he would support Arab troops intervening in Syria. Perhaps this is retaliation for that move. Also possible, the report is true, and Qatar has already started planning the intervention. Without an official declaration from the Arab League, however, this is unlikely.
13 martyrs until now in Syria by secrity members and the army gunfire including two defected recruits, 2 women and one under torture. Nine martyrs in Homs, 2 in Saqba (Damascus Suburbs) and one in each of Maarat Al-Noman (Idlib Suburbs) and Manbej (Aleppo Suburbs)
This video was reportedly taken earlier in Khan Sheikhun, Idlib province, earlier today. We don't yet have any news about casualties:
1532 GMT: We have posted a separate feature, a video interview (with English subtitles) of defected soldiers who have joined the Free Syrian Army and are now defending the embattled city of Zabadani.
1515 GMT: Teargas has been fired in Bahrain. According to multiple sources, police fired teargas and rubber bullets. This video has been circulating, claiming to show the attack:
1500 GMT: This video was reportedly taken at the Ras Ruman protest today in Manama, and it matches all of the pictures that EA has seen.
One reader suggests that this will be a hard protest to disperse, as it is in Manama, near important buildings and the center of government, making it nearly impossible to launch teargas or attack protesters.
1446 GMT: Turning back to Manama, Bahrain, some activists have staged a sit-in, sitting in the road and refusing to come to their feet, according to multiple sources. This picture appears to show a lone woman speaking to the police:
Around 40 people were arrested in the area of Ankhel, including 10 women and two boys aged between 14 to 15 years, the Lebanon-based activists told dpa.
1425 GMT: Turning now to Bahrain, it appears that a leading opposition party, AlWefaq, has attempted to host a protest march in the Ras Ruman area of Manama, but that march has been at least partially blocked by police.
This picture reportedly shows the protesters lining up in defiance of the police:
The crowd appears to consist of both men and women.
According to one pro-government account, the protesters appear that they will defy the police orders to disperse.
The situation is extremely tense.
1406 GMT: We have updated our article that discussed the cease-fire in Zabadani. As we explain there, the significance of these events is not wholly diminished by the end of the cease-fire:
Shelling has resumed in the city of Zabadani for a 6th day, as the cease-fire has apparently broken.
The broken cease-fire, however, does not erase the significance of this event. The Free Syrian Army did win a military victory, if only for a day. Even more evidence is surfacing that testifies to that fact.
This video reportedly shows a burned-out hull of a tank, allegedly destroyed by the FSA yesterday:
While we will continue to monitor this situation, what we know now is that a small number of FSA have been able to hold of the Syrian regular army, and many more have defected from the Assad regime in the last 24 hours in Zabadani.
1345 GMT: We may have started the day with news that a cease-fire had been brokered in the Syrian town of Zabadani, and the city was set to declare itself liberated, but it looks like we'll end the day by reporting that the town is being shelled for the 6th day in a row.
CFDPC posts this video, the hills of Zabadani echoing with gunfire and shelling:
According to reports, the shelling started around noon today. The Guardian has spoken, via Skype, with an activist nearby, who claims that the government broke the cease-fire:
"The number of injured people has risen to 60, three are in a critical condition. One of FSA officer was killed. He is former Syrian army officer Moutaa Dakdo.
There is a shortage of bread in the town. Telecommunications are not fully working. There is no medicine. Official hospitals cannot admit any of the injured."
The change was not unexpected. Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, responded to the broken cease-fire by saying, "Its illogical for President Bashar al-Assad to say last week he will strike with an ‘iron fist’ and for the army to give up in Zabadani... “If that’s true then the regime is finished. This isn’t true.”
James Miller takes the coverage, with a thank you to Scott Lucas for getting us started this morning.
1040 GMT: Bahraini activist Zainab Alkhawaja has sent the message that her trial has been postponed from today to 27 February. She is awaiting a ruling on the appeal of her husband Wafi Almajed who was arrested with Alkhawaja's father Abdulhadi soon after the start of the February uprising.
Zainab Alkhawaja was arrested last month, in a prominent incident, while occupying a roundabout on Budaiya highway.
While it is undoubtedly true that the Assad regime still has a measure of support within Syria, no one can sensibly put a figure on it or claim that Assad's supporters form a majority.
The 55% figure comes from an internet survey by YouGov Siraj for al-Jazeera's Doha Debates. Just over 1,000 people across the Arab countries were asked their opinion of Assad and an overwhelming majority – 81% – thought he should step down.
However, al-Jazeera says the picture inside Syria is different: "Syrians are more supportive of their president with 55% not wanting him to resign."
What is the basis for this statement? A look at the methodology of the survey shows that 211 of the respondents were in Levantine countries and that 46% of those were in Syria. In other words, the finding is based on a sample of just 97 internet users in Syria among a population of more than 20 million. It's not a meaningful result and certainly not adequate grounds for such sweeping conclusions about national opinion in Syria.
Basindwa, leading a transitional government preparing for a 21 February election, said he wanted President Ali Abdullah Saleh to depart before the vote: "I'm hopeful he will leave (the country). But let us wait and see."
0610 GMT: Bahrain's Ministry of Interior has not only refused a permit to the opposition society Al Wefaq for a march in the capital Manama this evening; it has also issued a warning, "If the procession goes ahead, it will do so in violation of the law. Legal procedures will be taken against violators."
The Ministry said, "Traffic will be hindered; commercial, embassy and government organizations may be hindered from operating; and the public may be put in at risk."
0550 GMT: Al-Masry Al-Youm, citing "security sources", claims Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces and the Ministry of Interior have devised plans to confront protesters, during the 25 January celebrations of the start of the uprising against the Mubarak regime.
The plans include the use of batons and coloured chemicals that will stain the skin for six months. As a last resort, live ammunition --- aimed at the feet --- can be used if "vital institutions" are attacked.
Meanwhile, the Association for Political Prisoners has called on Egypt’s incoming Parliament to press for the release of all 46 political prisoners still detained from the days of the Mubarak regime.
The Association also demanded that all those detained under the former regime be given LE30,000 (almost $5000) for each year they spent in prison and that financial assistance be provided to the immediate families of former prisoners.
The April 6 Youth Movement has protested at the Journalist’s Syndicate for the release of activist Ahmed Abou Doma.
Doma was arrested on charges of inciting violence against the army during clashes between protesters and the military on 16 December.
0540 GMT: Marches and clashes in Bahrain on Tuesday --- medical staff in the march by dismissed workers to the Ministry of Labor:
Protesters in Alquraiya in front of a blanket of tear gas, after a march was dispersed:
Video of police confronting young demonstrators, following a memorial march for Salma Abdul Mushen, who was allegedly killed by tear gas inhalation:
0500 GMT: We begin this morning with the overnight news that regime forces and insurgents in the Syrian town of Zabadani, near the Lebanon border and less than 20 miles from Damascus, have agreed ceasefire under which the army would withdraw and opposition forces would leave the streets.
Reuters, which broke the news alongside EA, is offering no interpretation. EA's James Miller, in contrast, sees this as a significant event in the Syrian drama, reading this as "the clearest sign to date that the Assad regime is losing control of parts of the country. A major military defeat, this close to the capital, Damascus, will help establish a foothold for the Free Syrian Army in the Rif Dimashq governorate, and a military victory for the FSA could be used as evidence that there is a viable military resistance in Syria which foreign nations could build a no-fly zone around."