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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: "Revolution Was Won When Wall of Fear Was Broken Down"

Claimed video of Bahraini police pursuing women in Al-Eker village, "under siege" since last week's death of a policeman

See also Turkey Feature: Syria Conflict Puts Strain on 1 Million Alawites
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2046 GMT: Syria. Another massacre reported in Syria. The LCC publishes this claim from Moudamyah, west of Damascus:

New massacre by the regime forces, the number of martyrs range between 60-70 martyrs, they were found in the city with sings on torture, most of these martyrs were detained in Sejn Mukhabarat Jaweye, ages of martyrs range between 18-40 years old.

Earlier the town, the site of several such massacres in the past, was reportedly shelled by regime forces.

We've yet to see any videos or photos of the bodies - treat this as unconfirmed, despite the LCC's reliable track record.

1922 GMT: Bahrain. EA's John Horne reports:

King Hamad today "affirmed his keenness on the independence of the judicial authority" as he received newly appointed High Court of Appeal Judges, according to Bahrain state media.

His comments come as NGO Reporters Without Borders said they were "outraged" by the acquittal of a policewoman for torturing France 24 journalist Naziha Saeed, which they called "a verdict that illustrates the Bahrain’s judicial system’s lack of independence".

1814 GMT: Lebanon. The US will send an FBI team to Lebanon to help in the investigation into the bombing which killed senior intelligence officer Wissam Al-Hassan, according to State Department official Mark Toner, speaking to journalists earlier today.

1752 GMT: Jordan/Syria. EA's John Horne reports:

A Jordanian soldier was killed earlier today on the border with Syria. Information and Culture Minister Samih Maaytah told AFP that "corporal Mohammed Abdullah al-Manasir, 25 years old, was martyred during a clash with an armed group that was trying to enter Syria". AFP continues:

A military statement said that soldiers guarding the border, who have been reinforced since the beginning of the conflict in neighbouring Syria, exchanged fire during the night with two separate groups comprising 13 gunmen in total.

The violence came just hours after Jordan announced it had foiled a "terrorist plot" and arrested 11 Al-Qaeda suspects who planned to carry out suicide attacks against shopping malls, foreigners and diplomatic missions in the kingdom.

1732 GMT: Syria. Earlier we reported that the closing of the supply lines at Ma'arrat al Nouman were helping the Free Syrian Army to win victories and captures bases and equipment in Idlib province (see update 1515). Now, an activist shares with us videos that suggest that some of that equipment is being redeployed to the front to attack regime forces in Ma'arrat al Nouman.

The FSA won its victories in Ma'arrat al Nouman without most of this heavier equipment, without a wave of new recruits, and without the ammunition it has recently captured. Now, as the FSA puts this newly captured equipment into battle, the playing field is just that much more level.

1629 GMT: Syria. According to the latest tally from the Local Coordination Committees, 91 people have been killed by regime forces so far today:

47 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its Suburbs, including 10 in Harasta and 15 due to the aerial shelling of Outaya; 14 in Aleppo; 9 in Daraa, including 4 who were field-executed in Busra Al-Sham; 9 in Idlib; 5 in Homs;3 in Hama; 1 in Raqqa; 1 in Banyas; 1 in Deir Ezzor and 1 in Lattakia.

See our note on the casualty figures published by the LCC.

Residents in Damascus report an escalation in violence, and in tension. Regime tanks have been deploying to new neighborhoods, and shells are falling in new areas.

It's worth noting that while shelling and air strikes have greatly escalated the number of deaths in recent months, most people in Syria are still killed by gunshots, especially inside the major cities and suburbs where any hint of protest or insurgent activity is often met with extreme prejudice.

But the only thing keeping the death toll lower in some places, especially Homs, Idlib, Aleppo, and Deir Ez Zor, is luck - assisted by the fact that so many homes that are bombed or shelled by the regime are empty. The LCC provides two great examples of this. In this first video, reportedly taken today in the Khalidiyah district of Homs, the only sign that this damage is recent is that the uprooted trees are still green. Most of Homs looks like this after so many months of shelling, which is why, by this point, most of Homs is deserted. Those who are left, however, are among the most vulnerable people in all of Syria:

A home burns in the Al Sakhour district of Aleppo, reportedly the result of today's shelling:

1515 GMT: Syria. The Free Syrian Army has been fighting for weeks to capture and secure the road near Ma'arrat al Nouman in Idlib province. The road is considered the primary (almost the only) supply route to Aleppo, and the only supply route to many of the border crossings, and the bases that defend them, in Idlib province. But When Ma'arrat al Nouman fell to the FSA, there was still plenty of strength in Assad's bases in Idlib - bases which are now cut off and falling into insurgent hands.

One such base is the massive air defense base in Salqin (sometimes called Salaqin, here on the map). While the nearby town of Salaqin fell to the FSA in late July, the nearby base has remained in Assad hands.

Until October 12th, when large portions of the base (a base that is more than a mile long) fell into FSA hands. Today, there are more signs of FSA advances here. This video shows FSA fighters capturing a ridge, several military buildings, a transport truck, and an armored vehicle. Another video shows a slightly more detailed look at the vehicle, which we believe is a T-series tank.

The FSA is capturing bases like this partially because these areas are now completely cut off from resupply. Also, there is evidence that the Syrian Air Force is now timid when it comes to directly confronting FSA operating this close to the Turkish border. It's still possible that Ma'arrat al Nouman will be retaken by the Syrian military, but the damage is already done. Large portions of Idlib are in the uncontested control of the FSA, and the remaining pockets of Assad resistance are losing steam.

Which brings up another point. In recent weeks the amount of prisoners collected by the FSA have skyrocketed. This tank appears to have been abandoned by its crew. The regime soldiers doing this fighting are losing heart, at least in Idlib, and with every FSA victory more arms and ammunition are falling into the hands of an insurgency that desperately requires both in order to survive.

1338 GMT: Bahrain. The Interior Minister has reportedly called for a change in the law which would allow authorities to hold parents financially responsible for any damages caused to public or private property by their children.

1331 GMT: Bahrain. EA's John Horne reports:

The policewoman accused of torturing journalist Naziha Saeed last year was today acquitted of the charges. Naziha, who works for France 24 and Radio Monte Carlo, was summoned for questioning at Riffa police station on May 22nd, 2011. NGO Reporters Without Borders carries this account of what happened next:

An hour later, she was called. She entered an office where there was a male officer. In a quiet but unsettling voice, he told her to answer the questions that would be put to her. He then left her with a female officer, who accusing her of "lying" in her reports and told her to admit her links with the Hezbollah TV station Al-Manar and the Iranian Arabic-language TV station Al-Alam. "You must confess," the woman kept repeating, going on to accuse her of participating in the pro-democracy demonstrations that have taking place in Bahrain since March.

An hour later, she was taken to another office. There, a woman police officer mocked and insulted her. When Naziha ignored her, the policewoman grabbed her by the chin, held it hard, and slapped her with the other hand. "You must tell me the truth," she screamed, continuing to slap her and then seizing her by the hair and throwing her to the ground. Four policewomen proceeded to slap, punch and kick her repeatedly. One of the women took her shoe and forced it into her mouth. "You are worth less than this shoe," she said.

With the shoe still in her mouth, she was dragged to yet another office, where she was blindfolded and was initially made to stand. Then she was forced to kneel on a chair, facing the back of the chair, exposing her back and the soles of her feet, which were now beaten repeatedly with a piece of flexible black plastic tubing. As she cried out with pain, a police officer kept shouting "Shut up and answer my questions" without asking any questions or without giving her time to say anything.

The policewoman had previously been found guilty of the charge before a military court and fined BD200, as noted by Bill Marczak.

Naziha had this sarcastic reaction to today's verdict:

1318 GMT: Syria. The Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre now reports that 17 people were killed in air strikes on the village of Autaya, East of Damascus (map). "The normal population is a few thousand but it is now also housing many people displaced from the devastated Eastern suburbs of the capital, which are still under fire today." They posted this video that shows an entire neighborhood destroyed. Another video, graphic in nature, shows a large amount of dead, and yet another shows a man killed in the village today.

1311 GMT: Lebanon. With the army moving into some areas to keep the peace, today has been more peaceful, as a tense calm settles over the country. We'll see if it lasts. However, despite this, the army has released a statement warning that the country is in a "critical phase."

"We call on all political leaders to be cautious when expressing their stances and opinions," said a statement by the army, adding that it would take "decisive measures" to prevent chaos in areas of high tension.

1304 GMT: Syria. Professor Joshua Landis has long resisted US intervention in Syria. In fact, even now he argues that something as limited as a Libya-style no-fly-zone could be " too much force used too quickly." However, Landis now believes (as we've stated for many months) that Assad has no chance of ever retaking most territory the insurgents have taken, Aleppo may fall soon (another reversal), and this makes the airstrike-related deaths even more senseless. All this has led Landis to reverse his position and call for the arming of the insurgents with MANPADS (shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles):

The supply of portable heat-seeking missiles, however, seems to be increasingly justified. US politicians fear that elements of the Syrian opposition may misuse ground to air missiles, but surely they cannot be misused more than are Assad’s jets and helicopters. Assad’s air superiority combined with his inability to rule Syria, is causing endless misery. Air power is so destructive that if it should be denied to both sides. Fewer people would be killed and a new balance would emerge as an expression of regional forces. Assad and his increasingly Alawite manned army can no longer control Aleppo and Damascus, which are overwhelmingly Sunni. Assad may not even be able to defend the Alawite Mountians from the growing strength of Sunni militias. The fate of the Alawite region is likely to depend on whether Sunni forces can unify — an eventuality that is not assured. The US should stay out of this struggle. Who knows how Syria will look when the fighting is over. Will the Kurds gain independence or a large measure of autonomy? How will the Alawite Territory be connected to Syria? Will the city of Latakia become an Alawite or Sunni dominted city? Will the government in Damascus hold central power as firmly in its hands as it has over the last 50 years? Or will Syria find unity in a larger measure of federalism? One can change views on these questions every day, but it seems clear that the Syrian air force has simply become an instrument destruction. Its survival only delays the day of reckoning for Alawites and fpr Syrians at large. The US has already played a decisive role in tipping the balance of power in Syria against the Assad regime. It is time to help the Syrian opposition ground government air-power.

1245 GMT: Syria. This video, also posted by the LCC, has the following caption: "Bombing Two Regime Forces' Tanks in Lejah, Daraa." A second video appears to show flames leaping out of one of the tanks. Neither video shows any of the regime tanks making an serious effort to counterstrike the insurgents. The Lejah region is between Sweida and Damascus:

James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas for getting us to the afternoon.

1201 GMT: Israel-Palestine. Hamas and medical sources say one of the two Gazans killed by an Israeli air strike on Saturday was the Palestinian leader of an Al Qa'eda-affiliated group.

Gaza medics said a second militant was also killed in the strike. The after-dark attack targeted the two men who were riding a motorcycle in the northern town of Jabaliya.

Hamas' Ministry of Interior said Hisham Saedni, also known as Abu Al-Waleed Al-Maqdissi, was believed to head the Jihadist Salafi group Tawhid and Jihad (One God and Holy War).

The group is a rival to Hamas, who detained Saedni in March 2011 and freed him in August.

1131 GMT: Syria. EA sources report that Ahmed As-Sinu Bin Haj Sa'doun, a member of the Kurdish National Council, was arrested on Sunday morning as travelled to meet United Nations-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

1118 GMT: Syria. The Deputy Commander of the Free Syrian Army, Ahmed Hejazi, has said United Nations-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi should admit his mission for a temporary ceasefire is a failure:

We ask Brahimi to stop his initiative, cancel his mandate and say, "I have failed in my mission." Everything he says has no effect on the regime. The regime is not ready for a ceasefire. It has become an enemy occupier of Syria and its people.

What ceasefire are they talking about? A truce that gives the regime a chance to take its breath and rearrange its ranks to continue slaughtering us.

0951 GMT: Palestine. Israeli forces have killed two Palestinian militants during an incursion in the northern Gaza Strip this morning, sparking clashes with gunmen from the governing Hamas movement, local officials have said.

Israel's military said its air force struck a Palestinian rocket crew after "a routine (army) patrol in the area" came under mortar attack.

0915 GMT: Bahrain. Al-Wasat reports that 610 of 617 students at a primary school near Al Eker have been unable to go to classes because of the police siege of the village.

Security forces have surrounded Al Eker since last week's killing of a policeman, allegedly by an explosive device.

0905 GMT: Lebanon. Five people have been wounded by gunfire in southern Beirut today, according to security and medical sources.

The sources said the shooting occurred on the edge of Tariq al-Jadida, a Sunni Muslim district adjacent to Shi'a suburbs in the south of the Lebanese capital. The army closed several roads in the area, local media said.

LBC claims two people have been killed by snipers in the Jabal Mohsen section of Tripoli. The station says seven people have been wounded in fighting.

0855 GMT: Turkey. Hurriyet features the assertion of The Committee to Protect Journalists, "The Turkish government is engaging in a broad offensive to silence critical journalists through imprisonment, legal prosecution and official intimidation.”

The CPJ's 53-page report identified 76 journalists imprisoned in Turkey as of 1 August, with 61 held in direct relation to their work, the highest figure in the world in the last decade.

About 70 percent of those jailed are Kurdish journalists charged with aiding terrorism in their coverage the views and activities of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK). More than three-quarters of the detainees have not been convicted of a crime.

0825 GMT: Egypt. The Government has frozen the financial assets of former Presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik and his three daughters, amid further pressure on Shafik over alleged business dealings with the sons of deposed leader Hosni Mubarak.

Shafik, who was Mubarak's last Prime Minister, is wanted for graft and is expected to face trial on 2 December. After losing the Presidential race to Mohamed Morsi in June, Shafik left Egypt for the United Arab Emirates. He has not returned home and authorities have announced he may be tried in absentia.

Charges centre on Shafik's role as chairman in the state’s housing association in the 1990s, when he allegedly sold publicly-owned lands below market value to Mubarak's sons Alaa and Gamal.

Shafik has also been ordered to face trial on charges along with 10 other former officials who were accused of corruption in Egypt's Ministry of Civil Aviation.

0708 GMT: Libya. Kareem Fahim of The New York Times profiles Bani Walid, where at least 22 people have died in clashes in the last week, as a city of Qaddafi loyalists "under siege":

Residents of the city say that the electric and gas supplies have been cut off and that the militias encircling the town, including many from the coastal city of Misurata, are shelling it indiscriminately. On Saturday, the United Nations representative for Libya warned all sides “to abide by humanitarian principles” and expressed concern at reports of growing civilian casualties resulting from the shelling....

In Tripoli, the Libyan capital, hundreds of people from Bani Walid invaded the Parliament building on Sunday, demanding an end to the violence, according to news reports.

In Benghazi in the east, residents reported that hundreds of protesters who were marching in support of Bani Walid destroyed the offices of a television station.

0703 GMT: Jordan and Syria. An official said a Jordanian soldier was killed early Monday during a clash with 16 "armed militants" trying to enter the country from Syria.

The official said four of the militants were killed and the others retreated into Syrian territory. It was unclear whether they were Jordanian or Syrian.

The news follows Sunday's declaration by Jordanian authorities that they foiled a "major terrorist operation" by 11 Jordanian nationals, linked to Al Qaeda, who had been in Syria.

0613 GMT: Egypt. Journalists of the state-run Al-Gomhurriya newspaper protested on Sunday outside Parliament's upper house, the Shura Council, condemning its dismissal of the paper’s editor-in-chief.

Ahmed Fahmy, the President of the Supreme Press Council, fired Gamal Abdel Rahim on Wednesday for publishing news that former military head Mohamad Hussein Tantawi and former Chief of Staff Sami Anan were about to be banned from leaving Egypt. The justice minister denied the report.

The journalists chanted slogans against the Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, denouncing Brotherhood control of the Shura Council.

0605 GMT: Syria. The General Intelligence Department announced on Sunday that it has foiled "a major terrorist attack that was in the planning stages" by 11 Jordanian nationals.

"Jordan is targeted by a number of fronts that want to spread chaos in the country," Minister of State for Media Affairs Samih Maaytah said.

Maaytah said the 11 men had come from Syria and "follow the ideology of Al Qaeda". He said the GID had monitored the group since June.

An official statement said the men had targeted shopping centres, diplomatic missions, and residential areas, particularly those with foreign nationals such as the upscale Abdoun district in western Amman.

0555 GMT: Syria. A different start this morning from our usual summary of fighting and deaths....

Ali Ferzat, the renowned cartoonist forced to leave Syria after he was seriously beaten, has spoken from his studio in Kuwait. Far from being disillusioned and depressed about the course of the uprising, he says, 

The revolution was won 18 months ago, when the wall of fear was broken down. We will never return to the state of fear and terrorism that existed up until then."

For years, the regime has hampered opposition parties....Today, everybody is revolting. Everybody is a victim of the repression. What we see happening today is the prize we have to pay for freedom.

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