Insurgents celebrate their control of Ma'arat al-Numan in Syria
2008 GMT: Turkey/Syria. According to Turkish reports, weapons equipment was also found on the planes (updates below):
Turkish inspectors also found parts that could be used in missiles in the Syria-bound plane intercepted by Turkey.— Mahir Zeynalov (@MahirZeynalov) October 10, 2012
2003 GMT: Turkey/Syria. No weapons, but military communications equipment, we found on the plane detained by Turkey (see updates below), according to a Turkish journalist:
Turkey seizes military communication equipments in Syria-bound civilian plane and sends the plane to Damascus with passengers.— Mahir Zeynalov (@MahirZeynalov) October 10, 2012
70 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its Suburbs (including 20 who were found in Deir Asafeir, 17 who were found in Daraya farms, 7 who were field-executed in Jesrein, and three bodies found in Zamalka bridge), 25 in Idlib, 20 in Aleppo, 12 in Homs, 14 in Raqqa, 10 in Deir Ezzor, 7 in Daraa (including 4 who were found in Eastern Gharia, and 1 who was martyred in Damascus Suburbs), 5 in Hama, and 1 in Lattakia.
First, see our note on the casualty figures put forth by the LCC.
Once again, the amount of violence in Damascus us shockingly high, with many neighborhoods, particularly in the southwest and in the eastern suburbs, being heavily shelled again today.
1904 GMT: Turkey/Syria. A Turkish journalist provides this picture, reportedly showing the civilian plane detained in Turkey (see previous entry):
This is the Syrian plane in Ankara Turkey forced to land. twitter.com/MahirZeynalov/…— Mahir Zeynalov (@MahirZeynalov) October 10, 2012
First, we can't confirm this picture is accurate. HOWEVER, if it is accurate then it's certainly interesting. Are there passengers on the plane? Are there weapons? If so, do they know that they may be riding on a plane filled with heavy weapons?
1843 GMT: Turkey/Syria. Turkey has intercepted a civilian plane flying from Russia to Syria, on suspicion that it was carrying heavy arms:
TRT says the Airbus A320 coming from Moscow was intercepted by F16 jets Wednesday as it entered Turkish airspace and escorted to the capital's Esenboga Airport.
The station reported that the plane was suspected of carrying heavy weapons to Damascus.
The plane is being inspected - no word yet on what the plane contained.
1356 GMT: Syria. Is the US really moving troops into Jordan to create a buffer-zone for the opposition? That's been the rumor all day, but now with Leon Panneta making a surprisingly Hawkish statement (noted by The Guardian) at a NATO conference, one has to wonder if this is more than hype:
We have a group of our forces there working to help build a headquarters there and to insure that we make the relationship between the United States and Jordan a strong one so that we can deal with all the possible consequences of what's happening in Syria.
Also noted by The Guardian, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little also suggested that the US would be working with its partners to ensure regional security.
We have been planning for various contingencies, both unilaterally and with our regional partners. There are various scenarios in which the Assad regime's reprehensible actions could affect our partners in the region. For this reason and many others, we are always working on our contingency planning, for which we consult with our friends.
This may not seem like much, but "all contingencies" is a far cry from statements that the Obama administration has been making all along. It seems there are new worries that conflict at the border could trigger a NATO member to invoke Article 5 of the NATO charter, effectively requiring military support to ensure security.
A series of battles that only hours earlier Al Jazeera, and EA Worldview, thought were smaller, now appear to have been significant.
Mcnaught's bottom line - the Free Syrian Army has created a buffer-zone in this areaprovince that is between 10 and 20 kilometers deep across the entire length of the Turkish border in western Idlib.
1318 GMT: Syria. One of the patterns that is emerging out of the last several weeks is that videos of Free Syrian Army battles are being released well after they are already done. This makes sense, as videos taken in the midst of fighting are taken in places where bullets fill the air much more than cellular or broadband connections. As a result, however, news about the fighting is on a significant delay, making it easy to overlook.
At the same time, the other pattern that is emerging is that two campaigns, the one that led to the fall of an airbase in Ghouta, east of Damascus, and the one that occurred yesterday in Idlib province, were much larger than we originally believed.
Yesterday we posted video showing FSA soldiers taking much of Ma'arrat al Nouman, but we also noted that the FSA took Khirbat al Joz, near the border with Turkey (see our opening entry). Today we find this video from Darkoosh, also on the border with Turkey, but nearly 15 kilometers away (map).
This is where the border issues with Turkey may be coming into play. It's possible that the FSA has full access to the western border with Turkey in this area. Militarily, these positions were always difficult for the Assad regime just because large mountains, and a few FSA strongholds, stood between them and the heart of Assad-occupied Syria. Now, with Turkish artillery ready to strike anything within 10 kilometers of the border if they feel threatened, the FSA may be exploiting the situation by securing more border crossings and territory.
The next week will be telling - how will Assad's army respond to a surging FSA in northwest Syria, and will he try to retake these border towns while Turkey's artillery stand in the wings, ready to pounce?
James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas for getting us started today.
1218 GMT: Bahrain. On 17 August, 16-year-old Hussam AlHaddad was shot and killed by security forces. Today, Bahrain State media report that public prosecutors have "ordered the case closed, determining it as legally justifiable self-defense".
The Government investigation claims that Hussam was masked, ignoring warnings to stop, and about to throw a Molotov cocktail at police when an officer 10 metres away shot him.
The account echoes Government statements at the time of the incident and is starkly different from reports by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, and Hussam's own family, who spoke to EA in August (see Bahrain Interview: The Life and Death of 16-Year-Old Hussam AlHaddad).
The King dissolved Parliament last week, halfway through its four-year term.
Insurgents, who control much of the surrounding countryside, have been pressing regime forces who control the city.
0950 GMT: Lebanon. Human Rights Watch has called for investigation and prosecution of any army and intelligence officials involved in the alleged beating of at least 72 male migrant workers on Sunday evening in the Beirut neighbourhood of Geitawi.
Citing witnesses and interviews with 25 of the beaten men, Human Rights Watch said at least 45 Syrian, 20 Egyptians, and 7 Sudanese migrant workers were assaulted.
The men said uniformed members of the Lebanese army barged into the rooms where they lived and kicked and beat them, before asking questions.The soldiers, some wearing shirts labelled “Army Intelligence", did not interrogate them about any specific incident or crime, but accused them of “harassing women".
Several mortar bombs landed outside the Syrian border town of Azmarin early on Wednesday and heavy machine gun fire could be heard from the Turkish side.
"We responded but if it continues we will respond with greater force," General Necdet Ozel said, according to State television TRT.
Reuters has more on this morning's shelling.
Syria. The New York Times reports that the US military has sent a task force of more than 150 specialists to Jordan to assist with the handling of Syrian refugees, to prevent the Syrian regime's loss of control of its chemical weapons, and to be "positioned should the turmoil in Syria expand into a wider conflict".
The task force, led by a senior American officer, is based at a Jordanian military training centre built into an old rock quarry north of Amman. US officials said the mission includes "plans to try to insulate Jordan...from the upheaval in Syria and to avoid the kind of clashes now occurring along the border of Syria and Turkey".
The officials said a buffer zone had been discussed, but is only a contingency at this point.
In May, the US organised a major training exercise, Eager Lion, for 12,000 troops from 19 countries, including Special Forces. After the exercise ended, the small American contingent stayed on at the Jordanian training centre.
Syria. After days of bombardment and siege, regime forces cleared the Free Syrian Army from the Khalidiya section of Homs, but Al Jazeera English, like EA, headlines the insurgent capture of Ma'arat al Numan, a town in the northwest on the Damascus-Aleppo highway.
Control of the town has been contested for months, and an opposition victory would further restrict regime ability to reinforce its troops in the battle for Aleppo, Syria's largest city.
Insurgents advanced elsewhere in Idlib Province, taking territory between Ma'arat al Numan and Khan Shiekhun, as well as Khirbet Al-Joz, northwest of Jabal Zawiyah, on the border with Turkey.