2141 GMT: Large protests have lasted well into the night in many cities across Syria. This video was one of the more impressive ones, reportedly showing a protest in the Bab Qebli neighborhood of Hama:
2115 GMT: It has been another extremely bloody day in Syria, as the LCCS is now reporting 33 people killed by security forces, "including 2 children and a defected recruit and 2 men who died under torture. 11 martyrs in Homs, 9 martyrs in Idlib, 6 martyrs in Daraa, 3 in Damascus Suburbs and a martyr in each of BoKamal, Raqqa, Damascus and Hasakeh."
The steepest escalation since the last report is in Homs, where reports of heavy attacks have been reported, perhaps in response to a new wave of defections in the city.
Also, the civilian who was killed in Damascus was reportedly, killed in a protest near the Mujtahed Hospital in Midan. This video was taken, reportedly showing the protest:
Security reportedly deployed to both the Asally and the Midan districts to break up the protests and to patrol the streets afterwards.
2103 GMT: An EA correspondent in Bahrain shares this video, and a grim assessment on the future of the crisis there:
[In] Bani Jamra village, police forces [cracked] down on a protest demanding the release of Sheikh Mohamed Ali AlMahfoodh (detained political figure and the head of the Amal political society). Protesters responded back this time, forcing the police to flee out of the village!
This has worked now in two villages! I believe we will be seeing more videos like that in the coming period! But this means it can lead to a bigger response by the Ministry of Interior. I really have a strong feeling that we are coming to a very critical, bloody period.
Alkalifa is still thirsty for blood [but] it's not that easy to break us or to put fear back in our hearts
2028 GMT: According to multiple sources, the city of Homs is still under attack. This video was reportedly taken in the Bab Tadmor district of Homs, and shows heavy gunfire and a home on fire, reportedly hit by a shell:
Almost every neighborhood in the northern half of Homs has reported some sort of assault by government forces today.
2013 GMT: According to activist Julia Reinhart, the human rights group Aavaz is planning on hosting a rally in front of the UN building in NEw York City, in order to send a message to the Security Council. Avaaz will deliver a pteition with more than 620,000 signatures, calling for intervention, and will hold a sign that reads, “World to Putin: 624,458 call on UNSC to Take Action on Syria Now!”
Russia is likely to block any call for foreign intervention in Syria.
2003 GMT: 25 have been killed by Syrian security forces today, according to LCCS, "including 2 children and a defected recruit and 2 men who died under torture. 9 martyrs in Idlib, 5 martyrs in Daraa, 6 martyrs in Homs, 2 in Damascus Suburbs and a martyr in each of BoKamal, Raqqa and Hasakeh."
Taking a closer look at those numbers, they closely match our reports of areas where a large degree of military activity was reported.
This video was reportedly taken today in Daraa, where gunfire echoes over a panorama of the city. Scenes like this are important, because they mark a shift in the conflict. For the first 6 to 8 months of the conflict, the majority of those killed were shot while at a protest. As the regime has been unable to end protests, and the Free Syrian Army is taking up positions to defend the cities, the military is now subjecting many cities to indiscriminate gunfire and shelling in order to break the population. This is old news in Homs, but is a relatively new development in Dara'a:
1940 GMT: The Arab League may be looking to refer the Syrian crisis to the UN Security Council, a move that has been slammed by the opposition as Russia is likely to block and UNSC action against Syria. This situation is even further complicated by the news that Russia is moving forwards with its plan to sell warplanes to the Syrian government:
Russia and Syria have signed a $550-million contract on the delivery of 36 Yakovlev Yak-130 Mitten combat trainer, the Kommersant daily quoted on Monday a source close to Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport as saying.
Under the deal struck in late December, the jets are to be supplied to Syria once Damascus makes a prepayment, the source said.
A source in the aircraft production industry told the newspaper the aircraft construction company Irkut is able to produce the jets for Syria in a relatively short time.
This deal, inked when the crisis in Syria was not as advanced, is a curious one. The Syrian air force has sparingly used its warplanes against defectors, or protesters, perhaps fearing a comparison to Libya. At the same time, the Yak-130 is overkill for use against insurgent ground forces, but it nowhere near capable of standing up to a 1st rate military force, such as the air-forces of the US, Europe, or even Turkey. Capable of subsonic speeds, and outfitted with outdated electronics, the Yak-130 would pose almost no threat to a Libya-style no fly zone operation.
The motivation behind the deal likely had more to do with cementing Syria's relationship with Russia, and intimidating the populations of Europe and the US, in order to avoid foreign intervention. Assad's refusal to negotiate with the Arab League, and his refusal to cease the violence, perhaps shows that Assad believes that as long as he can avoid foreign intervention he can avoid Qaddafi's fate.
1924 GMT: According to activists, the city of Al Bukamal, Deir Ez Zor, has been shelled and attacked by heavy gunfire today. These two videos, taken from different cameramen in different parts of the city, show smoke rising and the sounds of gunfire. According to activists, burning houses are creating the smoke after shells landed in a residential neighborhood:
1905 GMT: Major protests are reported across Idlib province, an area that has overwhelming (and increasing) support for the opposition, an embattled area that serves as the home base for a large amount of the Free Syrian Army. This video was reportedly taken in Hass, a suburb of Ma'arrat an Nouman in Idlib province. Hass has been the cite of several substantial protests in recent days, and has increasingly found itself the focus of harassment from security forces:
This was taken nearbye, in Kafer Rouma, Idlib:
And this was taken in Idlib city:
Even Idlib, the largest city in the area, is extremely small compared to the other major regional capitals. The size of these protests consistently demonstrates that a large percentage of these towns and cities routinely take to the streets in defiance of the Assad regime.
1838 GMT: We've discovered these two videos, reportedly taken to day in Homs. The first purports to show a group of soldiers from the Free Syrian Army on a rooftop above a crowd that gathered to protest the government and show their support for the insurgents.
EA has been unable to confirm reports of a large group of soldiers defecting in the city today, but there are many reports of heavy gunfire. This video reportedly shows "shabiha" firing from a fortified rooftop position into the city in the Babs Sbaa district:
1812 GMT: According to sources, the Libyan Interior Minister has spoken on Libyan State TV, and reports that 5 have died in fighting in Tripoli. However, he seems to downplay the event. This is, according to the description of the video, a translation:
Anchor: What is happening in Bani Wali, Mr. Muhammed Abdula'Al coordinator in the media committee of the city is saying fumes of fire rising and the people are in state of panic, and revolutionaries are surrounded in a public building?
Interior Minister: The info we have is that there are internal problems in the city of Bani Walid, it's the reason for what happened. We received info from inside the city that there are no raised green flags or anything related to the old regime. The problem according what we know is due to the compensatory payments that are being given as a replacement for the burnt houses which are almost 5000 LYDs, this sparked an issue between two parties in the city. I call on revolutionaries to keep calm and don't overreact about some news being spread by some new outlets till an official statement is issued.
Anchor: What about casualties?
Interior Minister: Till now we know 5 were killed.
Anchor: Did you send any reinforcements to the city?
Interior Minister: We have a group already present there along with forces belong to Ministry of Defense to maintain security. If it's necessary we can send more forces
1756 GMT: EA is tracking the latest reports from Homs, where different sources report different activities, but many sources report that there is escalating violence in the city at the current moment. This is particularly interesting, as there are also unconfirmed reports that the violence was triggered when a sizeable group of soldiers defected.
These reports from the LCCS are all within the last hour:
Martyrdom og Ghazwan Al-Hallak, 38 years old, from Karm Al-Zayton neighborhood after being shot by snipers' gunfire while he was crossing the Ansar street
Many injuries were reported after security forces shooting from Abbasiyeh towards the Southern neighborhood in Deir Ba'alba
A demonstration is taking place in the Khaldieh area. Gunfire is reported in the Ghouta and Qusour areas, and tanks and other military vehicles are headed to the town of Qusair, where another demonstration is ongoing
If all these reports are true, then the violence in Homs is widespread, as we also have received reports of violence in the Bab al Dreib and Bab Houd districts. This means that the northern areas of Homs are witnessing severe violence, at the same time as there are reports of defections there, but the southern areas are also active (see a map of the city).
According to the LCCS, the death toll has risen to 23, "including 2 children and a defected recruit and 2 men who died under turture.8 martyrs in Idlib, 5 martyrs in Daraa, 6 martyrs in Homs, 2 in Damascus Suburbs and a martyr in each of BoKamal and Hasakeh."
1728 GMT: There have been rumors, run by several news agencies, that pro-Qaddafi fighters has clashed with NTC forces in Tripoli, specifically in the Bani Walid section. These reports range from the mundane (a few fighters, some gunfire) to the sensational (Qaddafi fighters capturing the district.
We'll track the events in Tripoli, but so far we haven;t seen any credible reports of severe violence.
1657 GMT: As we projected earlier today --- Secretary general of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party is now the speaker of the Egyptian Parliament. Ahram News posts this video, taken today outside the parliament building:
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood gathered at Egypt's parliament building as the newly elected body opened for its first session. The political wing of the Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party, secured around 45 per cent of the seats in the first post-Mubarak parliament.
Other groups gathered around the parliament as it opened, including groups calling for the elected assembly to realise the demands of the revolution which began a year ago this week.
There have been other reports of clashes in Homs, including in the Bab Hud district, and as we reported below, LCCS has confirmed the death of 4 in the city. Also, one account tweets this report, though it is unverified:
Homs Defection of many honorable soldiers in Bab Houd which led to violent clashes behind the market.
1634 GMT: According to the Local Coordinating Committees, 18 have been killed so far today in Syria, "including a child and a defected recruit and 2 men who died under torture. 5 martyrs in Daraa, 4 martyrs in Homs, 4 in Damascus Suburbs, 3 martyrs in Idlib, and a martyr in each of BoKamal and Hasakeh."
1622 GMT: There are, according to activists, EA's sources, and the AFP, around 150,000 people protesting in Douma, an important Damascus suburb, at a funeral for 12 who were killed by security forces over the weekend. There's now way for us to verify how large the crowds really are, except to say that the pictures and videos are impressive, and appear to show several different angles, and all streets shown are packed with protesters:
James Miller takes the coverage.
1455 GMT: The World Bank on Monday has lifted a funding freeze on Yemen and said it will resume relations with the new power-sharing Government, having closed its office in March 2011 due to political turmoil and unrest.
"The Bank's reengagement comes as a result of the improving security situation in Sanaa and the establishment of the new national unity government," a statement declared.
This weekend Yemen's Parliament approved a law on Saturday granting outgoing President Saleh immunity from prosecution, while Saleh said he was leaving the country for medical care in the US.
1445 GMT: Back from an extended academic break to find that, according to Syrian activists, insurgents have killed five soldiers in Homs Province, at a checkpoint in the village of Al-Ziraa. Thirteen troopswere wounded.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said that security forces shot dead eight civilians on Sunday --- five in Damascus Province, two in Idleb, and one in Homs Province.
Meanwhile, Lebanon's Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour has criticised the Arab League "roadmap" for President Assad to transfer power, saying Arab ministers had taken an "unbalanced" approach to the crisis in Syria.
"We came to discuss the report of the Arab monitors... and all of a sudden this decision was put on the table," Mansour told reporters.
Lebanon did not take part in the vote on the League plan.
On Sunday, the staff gathered outside the office of Minister of Information Ahmed Anis and chanted to the head of the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, “Field Marshal, the purging [of Mubarak-era officials] is still not enough,” and “Down with military rule, we are the people, we are the red line.”
TV presenters, directors, editors, and video journalists submitted a list of demands for Anis which includes the sacking of Moataza Mahaba. Staff claim Mahaba has criticised the revolution on Twitter and attends protests in support of SCAF.
0637 GMT: The death of Lebanese teenager Maher Hamad on Saturday, shot by Syrian security forces whilst he was fishing in Lebanese waters, raises concerns over escalating border-tensions between the two countries, especially with the Syrian revolt escalating in scale and violence. The Daily Star reports:
0620 GMT: In Egypt, the 508-member People's Assembly –-- the lower house of Parliament --- will open its session on Monday.
A funeral for a Lebanese teenager killed by Syrian naval forces gave way to anger Sunday in the Lebanese border town of Arida, with residents chanting anti-Syria slogans and calling for the deployment of the Lebanese Army on the tense Lebanese-Syrian frontier to protect Lebanese citizens.
Three fishermen, identified as Fadi Hamad, 37, his brother Khaled Hamad, 33, and their nephew Maher Hamad, 17, were kidnapped by Syrian security forces Saturday morning after a Syrian naval vessel crossed 3 kilometers into Lebanon’s territorial waters.
Maher was shot in the stomach and killed when Syrian forces fired in the direction of the trawler, Arida residents said. There has been no statement so far from the Lebanese Army about the incident. Syria’s official news agency SANA said Syrian coastal guards in Tartous intercepted “a Lebanese smuggling boat trying to infiltrate Syrian territorial waters from north Lebanon.” It accused the crewmen of trying to escape, while “five Lebanese boats in Lebanese territorial waters opened fire on the boat, which resulted in the wounding of two of its members.”
The formal reading of decrees will be followed by newly-elected MPs taking the Constitutional oath.
A coalition led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party has about 47% of the seats, while the Salafist Nour Party's coalition has about 25%. Saad El-Katatni, Secretary-General of the FJP, is expected to be elected Speaker of the Assembly.
0520 GMT: On Sunday, the foreign ministers of the 22-nation Arab League, called on President Assad to begin talks with the opposition within two weeks and to set up a "national unity government" within two months, delegating power to his Vice President. The national unity government, in turn, would take steps leading to a new Constitution and to Parliamentary and Presidential elections.
The plan is similar to the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative in Yemen that, after eight months, led to President Saleh's agreement to transfer power. Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani said, "After the establishment of the government of national unity, there has to be a referendum and preparation for new elections. The Arab League's Secretary-General is to send a new special envoy to Syria, and will call on the international community to support this national unity government to fulfill its functions."
Al Thani also reiterated the Arab League's demands that the violence in Syria be brought to an end, that political detainees be released, that the Syrian military pull out of cities, and that citizens be allowed to demonstrate peacefully.
Damascus has already reacted through an unnamed source, via State TV, who said that the League's plan was part of a conspiracy which contradicted the will of the Syrian people and violated national sovereignty.
That is likely to raise the question of what happens if President Assad balks at the proposed arrangements. Al Thani said that, while the League was taking its case to the United Security Council, it was not proposed an international deployment of troops: "We are looking into an Arab solution for this. We are not looking for a military intervention."
While we wait for clues to any outcome (or lack of it), there will be the day-to-day developments of protests and the response by the security forces. That, too, will concern the Arab League: on Sunday it extended the mission of its observers for another month.