A march in Jidhafs in Bahrain on Monday (see 0720 GMT)
See also Bahrain Analysis: Navigating a Rising Tide of Violence br>
Bahrain Special: Interview with Nabeel Rajab "We Will Continue Our Uprising" br>
North Africa Feature: Has "Arab Spring" Brought Reconciliation in Region? br>
Monday's Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Arab League Speaks --- Does It Matter?
2136 GMT: Prominent Bahraini activist Zainab AlKhawaja is reporting that her husband, Wafi Almajed, has finally been released and is home. Earlier, we reported that he had been acquitted of charges for which he spent several months in detention.
2102 GMT: Everything in Syria isn't about the death tolls, however. Because it's been such a busy day, we've neglected to report that there have been a large amount of peaceful protests across the nation. And many of those protests have lasted into the night.
This video was taken in Duma, Damascus, a city that has hosted some of the most impressive protests in the entire uprising in recent days:
This video was taken in Anadan, an important suburb of Aleppo and a stronghold for anti-government protests.
And this video was taken tonight in southern Homs, the neighborhood of Kafr Aya, where the protesters praise the independent media for sharing their story with the world:
2042 GMT: An EA's source from Idlib also confirms another important details. The town of Kafar Takharim, Idlib province, near the border with Turkey, remains in the complete control of the Free Syria Army. Several other towns and villages in Idlib province has a large FSA presence, much of Idlib city is reportedly occupied by the FSA, and just today the FSA has conducted attacks in or around Hama, Homs, Daraa, and al Bukamal, not to mention Duma, just miles outside Damascus, and Zabadani, a liberated city only about 20 miles northwest of Syria's capital.
Only one week ago, the Free Syrian Army had no towns under its control, but at the end of the day there are at least 2 towns completely under its control, with several more on the brink.
2022 GMT: Meanwhile today's death toll continues to climb. LCCS reports that 62 have been killed by security, including "5 defected soldiers, 42 martyrs in Homs 18 of them fell from shelling of two buildings in Bab Tadmur neighborhood, and 6 martyrs in Hama, 4 martyrs [in] Daraa and 2 in Idlib, and one martyr each in Damascus, Douma in Damascus Suburbs and Raqqa."
a checkpoint has been set up in Orm al Soghra a small village in #Idlib where they are stopping people by ID and executing them
We have been in touch with a contact who lives in Idlib, and they can confirm the report. According to the source, roadblocks have been established on the roads between Idlib and Aleppo, in order to prevent protests, or defectors, from moving from Idlib, a stronghold for the opposition, and Aleppo, a stronghold for the regime. Orm al Soghra is a town on that road:
According to the source, who is now stuck in Aleppo and cannot return to Idlib, the streets of Aleppo are patrolled by thugs, "shabiha," with knives and other weapons in order to prevent protests and to "hunt" the opposition.
EA's source also reports that their contacts in Idlib say that the Free Syrian Army has control of the majority of the city, except for the security headquarters and several key security checkpoints. This is at least partially confirmed by other reports that we've received from Idlib, suggesting that the city, and many of its suburbs, are now opposition strongholds, and the security forces are desperately, and continuously, repositioning and attacking in order to maintain at least the illusion of control.
1956 GMT: There are multiple --- and conflicting --- reports coming out of AlDuraz in Bahrain. What seems certain is that, amidst the unrest there earlier today, a policeman was attacked and seriously injured by opposition protesters. The event in itself is but one more instance of violence from the streets of Bahrain today, and other days, with the key difference being that here it is a member of the security services who was hurt.
The symbolic value of this violence --- opposition protesters beating a policeman --- is likely to be exploited for all its worth, by both supporters of the regime inside by Bahrain, and by their allies in public relations firms keen to perpetuate a narrative that the opposition are violent, "Molotov cocktail throwing", thugs. Likewise, the image of the beaten policeman is likely to appeal to the small aspects of the opposition movement who seek a more violent revolutionary path, showing, as it does in tragic terms, the fact that agents of the state are not all powerful. Lost in this are countless thousands --- hundreds of thousands --- of citizens seeking a peaceful path to a better Bahrain.
As the article by Marc Owen Jones today suggests, the violence in Bahrain is rising and it is essential that a full and complete understanding of its scale and its causes is understood, free from ideological manipulation. We will explore this further in a feature tomorrow morning.
The number of Syrian martyrs today has risen to 60 martyrs, among them are 5 defected soldiers, 41 martyrs in Homs (18 of them fell from shelling of two buildings in Bab Tadmur neighborhood), and 5 martyrs in Hama, 4 martyrs Daraa and 2 in Idlib, and one martyr each in Damascus, Douma in Damascus Suburbs and Raqqa.
There are still reports of more violence in many places in Syria, so it is still possible that these numbers would rise. So far, today appears to be one of the bloodiest day in Syria in many weeks.
1812 GMT: Egyptian General Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), has ended the state of emergency that has been in place for over 70 years. The move comes on the eve of the one year anniversary of the fall of the Mubarak regime. Foreign Policy Magazine reports:
Ending the state of emergency was one of the most important demands of the revolutionary coalition that ousted President Hosni Mubarak last year. I have read only news accounts of his action, but those make it clear that the fine print makes this a bit less of a gift than it initially appears.
FP has also posted a breakdown of the details of this development.
1712 GMT: Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil has been freed from prison. Nabil is widely considered to be the first political prisoner of conscience arrested during the start of the uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak. On April 10, he was sentenced to 3 years in prison, but the Egyptian military was widely criticized, both at home and abroad, for the imprisonment of Nabil.
1702 GMT: This is another video reportedly taken in the Bab Tadmor district of Homs (map of Homs). The homes across the street burn as the cameraman shows the damage to his/her own home. Meanwhile, sporadic gunfire can be heard in the background. We've also seen many terrible videos, far too graphic to post, showing the burned bodies of civilians in many districts of Homs, reportedly the victims of government shells:
1644 GMT: With reports of violence flowing in, the death toll in Syria is rising rapidly. The latest report from the Local Coordinating Committees of Syria claims they have confirmed that 52 have died today at the hands of the security forces, "39 martyrs in Homs 18 of them fell from shelling of two buildings in Bab Tadmur neighborhood, and 5 martyrs in Hama, 3 martyrs Daraa and 2 in Idlib, and one martyr each in Damascus, Douma and Raqqa."
This makes no mention of the battles in Hama, Douma, Qusair, and elsewhere, where the LCCS has been unable to confirm the amount of deaths, in large part due to the fact that the battles are ongoing.
1634 GMT: This video was reportedly taken in the Karam al Zeitoun district of Homs. It shows civilians fleeing as smoke and fire fill the air after a shell landed in the area. It confirms a report from the LCCS, posted just moments ago, that a house collapsed, killing several, after a shell fell in a residential neighborhood. This even is separate from the shelling that reportedly collapsed two homes in the Bab Tadmour district (see below):
1626 GMT: EA Correspondent John Horne reports on the latest from Bahrain:
As we reported earlier, there are scenes of tear gas and violence in Ma'ameer village. The unrest follows attacks by security forces on mourners at final day of the funeral of Yaseen Al-Asfoor, an 11-year old boy who allegedly died as a consequence of tear gas inhalation. Many regime supporters contest this, claiming that Yaseen died as a consequence of the black smoke released by tyre burning, an argument which is being used to tarnish the mostly peaceful nature of the opposition movement and divert attention away from the security forces overwhelming use of tear gas.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Interior said that they would not permit a public funeral, instead asking that Yaseen's family bury him in silence. This now seems like a calculated attempt to give the Ministry a justification for their actions today, firing tear gas and rubber bullets
The attack follows three days of mourning, including this candlelit procession last night, which had passed peacefully. Citizens of Ma'ameer spelled out Yaseen's name in candlelit lanterns on the ground:
It also marks yet another instance of security forces attacking daytime burials of individuals killed as a consequence of regime action. Here, Yaseen's father is seen grieving at his sons grave, before police attacked, showing how somber and peaceful the occasion was:
1619 GMT: Multiple EA sources are reporting that a large amount of tanks, perhaps 20 or more, are rushing towards the northern gates of Douma. The fighting seems to be focused near Al-Makaser road, approximately here, we believe.
1610 GMT: Now the reports of heavy gunfire in Douma, Damascus, are starting to make sense. According to the Local Coordinating Committees, the Free Syrian Army has engaged the regular army on Al-Makaser road. Demonstrators also reportedly are taking to the street in support of the FSA.
Hama: The neighborhood of Bab Qalbi continues to be besieged. Very heavy explosions are heard in the neighborhood. The regime's forces are using heavy weapons in their operation amidst massive presence of Shabiha, security forces and armored vehicles.
This video was also uploaded, showing the gunfire ringing out in the city:
Casualties in the city are reported, and today's nationwide death toll has risen to 40, "32 martyrs in Homs, 18 of them fell from shelling of two buildings in Bab Tadmur neighborhood, and 4 martyrs in Hama, 2 martyrs in Idlib, and one martyr each in Damascus and Raqqa."
1538 GMT: There are multiple accounts reporting an intensifying situation in Idlib. The LCCS reports continuous gunfire, snipers, and explosions in the center of the city, near the main headquarters of the security forces in the area. Multiple casualties are reported.
Also, within the hour we reported that there were warplanes and tanks reportedly attacking the city of Qusair, Homs. Now it appears that the Free Syrian Army is engaged in a fight for the city's main hospital.
1531 GMT: There are multiple reports of clashes between protesters and police in Sitra, and several other locations in Bahrain. An EA correspondent reports from Bahrain:
Heavy clashes in many of Bahrain villages This pic is from Ma'ameer:
I can see about 20 jeeps with 2 buses are not parked at Sitra entrance, helicopter flying at low attitude and police walking in groups on main island roads. Most of the clashes are with a violent nature.
Our correspondent also sends us this exclusive video, showing protests, and clashes, in AlDuraz:
Damascus Suburbs: Douma: Heavy gunfire and the regime's forces assembling inside the Walid Sanatorium in front of Avicenna Hospital.
We believe that this hospital is here.
Idlib: Saraqeb: Al-Ghaeeb (absentee) prayer on martyr Rodwan Rabee Al-Hamady was targeted by three shells that fell near the prayers, and reports of the injury of several people
Now, a different source shares this video, reportedly showing the prayer service disrupted by the explosions in Saraqeb:
1447 GMT: The man shows a building in Bab al Dreib, destroyed by the shelling by government forces. He shows the camera a "missile," the remains of ordinance fired, according to the man, into a home in the area. What sounds like distant gunfire can be heard at several points in the video:
Bab al Dreib is next to Bab Tadmour, where two buildings reportedly collapsed today, killing at least 18 (see updates below). This map of Homs is helpful to sort the reports coming from the city (click for larger image):
1440 GMT: According to the Local Coordinating Committees of Syria, today's death toll has already risen to 35, "30 martyrs in Homs 18 of them fell from shelling of two buildings in Bab Tadmur neighborhood, and three martyrs in Hama and one martyr in Idlib and Damascus."
1418 GMT: Still trying to catch up and verify all the reports of violence we've heard so far today. Just looking at reports from the LCCS, heavy gunfire could be heard today in Ma'arrat al Nouman, in Idlib; a defector was reportedly killed in Hawleh, Homs; gunfire and explosions could be heard as a military convoy raced towards Khirbet Ghazala, in Daraa; several people were injured when tank shells fell near a prayer service for a martyr in Saraqeb, Idlib; two people were shot at a checkpoint in Taybat al Imam, Hama; gunfire and explosions are reported in Idlib city; a child was reportedly shot in the head in Hama; and there are many reports of violence across Homs.
This video reportedly shows gunfire in Al Bukamal, Deir Ez Zor, a location that has many reports of violence today:
But perhaps the most interesting claim from the LCCS so far is this one:
Homs: Qusair: Aerial Forces' aircraft flying over the city and the shelling continues from the tanks stationed at the remainings of the checkpoints
We have not verified most of these reports, though multiple sources are reporting that al Bukamal and Homs are cites of a large amount of violence. We'll keep our eyes open to verify the other reports.
1359 GMT: The Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre is reporting that at least 24 have died across Syria today, including the 18 in Bab Tadmour who died in the building collapse. However, some estimates that we've seen suggest that more than 20 have died in the collapses in Homs, and there is widespread reports of violence across the nation today.
Unfortunately, expect the death toll to rise.
According to the description of the video, this was a 4 story building that collapsed after it was shelled (see the last update below):
1339 GMT: James Miller takes the wheel.
It has been an extremely bloody day already in Homs, which has been bombarded nearly constantly for the last 2 days, according to the LCCS:
At least 18 martyrs were reported in Bab Tadmur neighborhood due to the shelling by Assad's forces that destroyed two inhabitated buildings while the residents in their homes
1245 GMT: Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem has issued a defiant statement at a press conference, offering no relaxation of the crackdown by security forces, "It is the duty of the Syrian government to take what it sees as necessary measures to deal with those armed groups that spread chaos."
Moallem also chided the Arab League, which has called on the Assad regime to begin steps within two weeks for a transfer of power from the President and has said it will go to the United Nations Security Council if Damsacus does not comply: "If they go to (UN headquarters in) New York or the moon, as long as we don't pay their tickets, this is their business,"
They stood in a moment of silent unity, honouring the revolutionary martyrs who helped make this historic dream a reality. Then, one by one, 508 parliamentarians --– Egypt's first democratically elected representatives in 60 years --– answered their names and pledged to honourably serve the interests of the nation.
And then the cracks began to appear. The first ultra-conservative Salafist MP to go off script was Mamdouh Ismail, who added "...if not in contradiction with God's doctrine" to his oath of office, and others quickly followed suit. Liberals hit back by tacking on their own spontaneous postscripts, promising to serve the nation "in accordance with the demands of the revolution".
1225 GMT: In a move which appears to be linked to Bahrain's effort to stage a Formula 1 Grand Prix this year, the Ministry of Labour has intervened in the wake of complaints from more than 20 sacked employees of the Grand Prix's venue.
The workers were among up to 2700 Bahrainis summarily dismissed amidst last year's protests.
Two weeks ago, a royal decree ordered firms like the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) to reinstate some of the workers, but several employees did not return, saying that the contracts failed to restore lost pay and benefits and that they were asked to drop cases brought for unfair dismissal.
A spokesman for the Ministry, Mohammed Ali al-Ansari, said officials had intervened, "We told the company that there was no need for the workers to sign new contracts; the old contracts are still valid....The Ministry of Labour will work very hard to ensure that [the employees] will not lose anything.
On allegations that the workers were arrested at their desks, taken to a local police station, and beaten, Mr Ansari said those matters were the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior.
The 2011 Grand Prix scheduled for Bahrain was postponed amidst the unrest.
1205 GMT: Reuters reports that Syria will hold a referendum on a new Constitution "soon" as part of the reforms promised by President Assad earlier this month.
1155 GMT: Bahrain's regime-linked Gulf Daily News claims, from the head of public prosecution Nayef Yousif, that a post-mortem indicates 24-year-old Yousif Ahmed Abbas drowned. The prosecutor also alleged that "the body also contained residue of a substance used for treatment of psychiatric patients".
Activists assert that Ahmed Abbas, found near Amwaj Island Beach, died after a severe beating. The victim was buried at the weekend.
1045 GMT: A British-based dentist with relatives in Bani Walid in Libya, confirms our suspicions that Monday's reports of "pro-Qaddafi fighters" taking over the town were a distortion.
Speaking to The Guardian, Aziz blamed the reports on propaganda by the local National Transitional Council official, Mohammed Bashir. The dentist said the fighting, which killed five people, was between the rival militias "93 Brigade" and "May 28 Brigade".
1042 GMT: Gulf States, following a similar decision by Saudi Arabia yesterday, are reportedly withdrawing their observers from the Arab League mission in Syria.
1039 GMT: Protesters in Ghuraifa in Bahrain have apparently released a montage video, linking their use of Molotov cocktails to the beating of women by security forces:
Hundreds of workers --- the Government says about 1500, while activists say more than 2500 --- were dismissed for political activity after the start of last year's protests.
1015 GMT: Bahraini activists are reporting that 12 colleagues have been found innocent today.
Those acquitted include Wafi Almajed, the husband of prominent activist Zainab Alkhawaja. His sister-in-law Maryam Alkhawaja has asked, "Will they be compensated for months in prison and severe torture they underwent?"
Zainab Alkhawaja writes, "I am SO happy!! :D ...and yet my happiness will never be complete, until my dad, my uncle, & every political prisoner is released."
Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, the father of Zainab and Maryam and a prominent opposition leader, has been sentenced to life in prison.
The first bomb targeted day labourers waiting for jobs, killing eight and injuring 21. About 30 minutes later, a car exploded outside a bakery almost two miles away, killing two people and wounding 11.
0729 GMT: In Syria, the opposition Local Coordination Committees have criticised Monday's statement by Mohammad Mustafa Al-Dabi, the head of the Arab League observers, summaring the mission: "As expected, the report assigned equal blame to both the victim and the hangman and blurred the monumental hardship that millions of Syrian experience everyday while they rise to reach freedom, dignity, democracy and a wise system of governance."
0720 GMT: On Monday protesters in villages across Bahrain called for the release of Mohammad Ali Almahfoodh, the Secretary General of the opposition society Waad. This march was in Mehaza:
0717 GMT: There is still much confusion over the status of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh after his arrival in Oman, hoping to go to the US for medical treatment.
A foreign diplomat said Saleh has requested permanent sanctuary in Oman, but Yemeni officials insisted Saleh would return to the capital Sana'a after his stay in the US.
0715 GMT: Egypt’s Ministry of Interior has said that it is a “heavenly coincidence” that Wednesday's first anniversary of the uprising against the Mubarak regime is also National Police Day. The Ministry said “God’s will” wished to express the bond between the “people and the police force".
Syrians are beginning to feel the brunt of economic sanctions as food prices have almost doubled in recent weeks with the Syrian pound having plummeted to its lowest records against the dollar, prompting the government to announce partial floating of its currency and allowing its value to be determined by the fluctuations in the foreign exchange market....
A woman in [a] Damascus suburb said prices of some locally-produced basic food products have increased by 30 to 50 percent, while some imported food products were no longer available in the market. The price of a gas canister, for example, increased from 250 to 400 pounds ($2.5 to $4) on Sunday in some areas while in other places it reached 700 pounds that are hard-hit by violence and locked [down] by military and security forces....
Meanwhile, the continuous devaluation of the Syrian pound against the dollar has deepened the plight of Syrians. The exchange rate for the black market rates reached 75 pounds to the dollar, while the official rate was 57 pound to the dollar. Before the uprising, both the official and the black market rates were about 47 pounds to the dollar.
0700 GMT: The US Embassy in Bahrain has relocated its staff and their families to new neighbourhoods in the capital Manama. The announcement is part of a new travel alert which, interestingly, only blames one side for the threat:
The recent increase in violent demonstrations along the Budaiya Highway corridor has led to traffic disruptions, effectively restricting travel for those living in the area. The resulting inability to leave one's home for an extended period poses significant safety and security concerns. As a result, embassy employees and their dependents are being relocated to different neighborhoods.
The alert tells US citizens, "If you encounter a large public gathering or demonstration, depart the vicinity immediately." It continues:
Some demonstrators have engaged in clashes with the police and continue to
employ tactics such as placing debris and oil on roadways, throwing steel spikes
and Molotov cocktails. These actions often result in adverse driving conditions, an
increased police presence, and significant traffic delays. The Embassy expects
these tactics to continue.
The British Embassy has also issued an alert, but it is more muted in its description of the threat:
There has been an increase in protests and disruption across various parts of Bahrain in recent weeks. Some groups have called for a general increase in such activity in the period running up to and including February 14th (the one year anniversary of the "Day of Rage"), and one group has called for action to begin from January 24th onwards. We cannot confirm where or when any such activity or resulting disruption will take place, but we advise British nationals in Bahrain to maintain a high level of security awareness and to exercise caution, particularly in public places and on the roads, and to avoid large crowds and demonstrations.
0630 GMT: We begin in Syria. After a relatively light number of casulaties on Sunday, it was back to the deadly "new normal" on Monday: activists report that 36 people were slain, including three children and two insurgent troops. Twelve were killed in Homs,11 in Idlib, six in Daraa, three in the Damascus suburbs, and one each in Albukamal, Raqqa, Damascus, and Hasaka.
The activists are claiming "several massive explosions" and sporadic gunfire in Darraya, near Damascus, amidst an extensive security deployment and a blackout. There are also reports of firing in Daraa, Hama, and Homs.