Homs, Syria at daybreak this morning
See also Syria Audio Feature: Why Insurgent Advance Is More Important Than The Ceasefire --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24 br>
Friday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Insurgent Advance in Aleppo Overtakes "Ceasefire"
2253 GMT: Syria. Claimed footage of the Free Syrian Army firing on a Kurdish demonstration in Ashrafiyeh in Aleppo today:
2235 GMT: Bahrain. Security forces fire tear gas in Nuwaidrat today:
1750 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees report that 62 people have been killed today by security forces, including 33 in Damascus and its suburbs --- 12 of them in attacks on Douma --- and 10 in Daraa Province.
1600 GMT: Bahrain. Brian Dooley of Human Rights First is getting a lot of attention for an article summarising the regime's crackdown on Twitter users, including the three-month sentence imposed on Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights for a message --- that term was revoked on appeal, but Rajab was later given three years on other charges --- and the arrest of four other men for "personally insulting the King" via the social medium:
By targeting and intimidating users of Twitter, the government is smothering the chance for people to peacefully oppose the ruling family. Since the traditional media is largely closed to government critics and street protests are often met with excessive police force, Twitter is one of the few places where people are still able to voice peaceful dissent. Shutting off this safety valve is likely to backfire, increasing frustration with the government and inviting more ridicule of the royals.
In The Guardian, Maryam Alkhawaja of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights rejects the sectarian presentation of the conflict:
Aided by more than 13 different European and American public relations companies at times, the regime aims to turn its blatant repression into a net asset by capitalising on the fear of the enemy du jour: Shia Iran. At the end of the day the fact remains the same: you can be Shia and loyal to the regime, like Sameera Rajab who is minister of information; and you can be Sunni, sentenced by a military court, tortured and serving time in prison, like Ebrahim Sharif.
Next time you pick up a newspaper remember that the sectarian Shia-versus-Sunni narrative only serves Bahrain's tyrants.
1540 GMT: Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is claiming that the clashes in the Ashrafiyeh section of Aleppo between the Free Syrian Army and militia of the Kurdish group PYD have killed 30 combatants. About 200 fighters were captured, most of them from the PYD.
Ashrafiyeh, with a large Kurdish population, was taken by the PYD on Thursday. Initial reports indicated that the FSA had been allowed to move into the area, but the agreement broke down.
We generally treat claims by the Observatory with caution, and are looking for corroboration.
1520 GMT: Syria. Activists claim that buildings in the Arbeen section of Damascus have been demolished by regime aerial bombardment:
Itani has worked for Al Akhbar and now reports for the Lebanese channel LBC international and several other media outlets.
The Azaz Rebels said his work was "incompatible with the course of the revolution" in Syria. It said his house arrest would last a short period pending his release of certain "statements".
Itani was reportedly with a group of insurgents in Aleppo when he raised suspicion about some video recordings. However, the Azaz Rebels said evidence thus far collected does not point to any kind of "collusion" with the Syrian regime.
The Ministry of Interior said that "it was illegal to take part in the rally and legal action would be taken against violators".
Security forces have restricted access to the village and carried out raids since a policeman died amid clashes with protesters nine days ago.
The resolution, passed on Friday, assailed the Gulf Arab state's treatment of political dissidents and its use of the death penalty, while calling on the UAE to respect the rights of women and migrant workers.
"The biased and prejudiced report leveled unsubstantiated accusations without examining the facts of the situation on the ground," UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said. He praised the UAE's achievements "particularly in the field of migrant workers rights...and the empowerment of women", saying that people from more than 200 nations lived in the country "in an atmosphere of openness and tolerance".
1228 GMT: Syria. Claimed footage of insurgents entering the Blleramoon district of Aleppo for the first time:
1225 GMT: Syria. Mohammed Doumany, an activist in the Damascus suburb of Douma, has said, "The army began firing mortars at 7 a.m. I have counted 15 explosions in one hour and we already have two civilians killed. I can't see any difference from before the truce and now."
A police source said at least five passengers were killed on a bus in Taji, 25 kilometres (16 miles) north of Baghdad, by a bomb planted in the vehicle. Twelve others were injured.
Another explosion in Baghdad's northeastern Ma'amel neighbourhood killed at least five people and injured 13 others, officials said.
0949 GMT: Syria. A demonstration in Halfaya in Hama Province this morning:
The reports claim "great material damage to the [Syriac] Church's façade" but do not mention any casualties.
0932 GMT: Syria. Reports are circulating of a deadly clash between the Free Syrian Army and Kurdish fighters in Ashrafiya in Aleppo. Hassan Hassan of The National claimed the fighting occured after an agreement for the FSA to enter the area "went bad" with the Syrian Kurdish group PYD.
A campaign of bombings and death threats aimed at Libyan government targets is being blamed on armed Islamist extremists, including the city’s most powerful militia, the Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade, whose ideology residents say is akin to al-Qaeda’s....
For now, the militants appear to have taken cover in urban homes and farms in the remote Green Mountains that surround the city. But officials say the local government remains powerless to stop them, even as the extremists push their ideology just as fervently as before.
“No one will stop anyone from doing anything,” said Fathalla al-Awam, the head of the largely toothless local council, and militants are free to come and go from the city and surrounding areas as they please. “There’s no police, no army and no militias. Nothing. It’s an open city from east and west."
Some Libyans say the extremist views are held much more broadly than just among the Islamist militias themselves, a fact they said the United States has failed to understand in the wake of the Benghazi attack. Not all of the extremists in Derna or elsewhere in Libya belong to a group, they said. But those who share al-Qaeda’s ideology are many, they said, and that creates ample opportunity for recruitment.
“It’s a way of thinking,” said Saad Belgassim, who used to work as a bureaucrat in Derna’s now defunct court system. “They kidnap people like they do in Afghanistan. They delude young people and send them off to bomb themselves.”
0555 GMT: Syria. Claimed photograph of fighters from Derna in Libya, resting during a battle:
0550 GMT: Syria. Kim Sengupta of The Independent sets out the claim of the insurgents that a regime operation sold them "doctored" ammunition through foreign agents:
Three meetings took place in Istanbul between representatives of the rebels and the dealers, including the Briton, calling himself Emile, to organise shipments. An initial payment of around $40,000 was made. The delivery was on time, as had been a previous shipment. But it soon became apparent that something was wrong. Rifles exploded during a firefight. There was a second such “accident”, and a third, leading to injuries. An examination of the remaining consignments revealed that propellants inside some of the cartridges had been replaced with ground explosives with three or four times design-pressure, with the aim of bursting them in the breach.
To the Syrian rebels, the offer was enticing: Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles and ammunition at below-market price, with supplies plentiful. The dealers were convincing: two of them had European passports, one a British passport, and they claimed to have been involved in supplying arms during the Bosnia war.
Three meetings took place in Istanbul between representatives of the rebels and the dealers, including the Briton, calling himself Emile, to organise shipments. An initial payment of around $40,000 was made.
The delivery was on time, as had been a previous shipment. But it soon became apparent that something was wrong.
Rifles exploded during a firefight. There was a second such “accident”, and a third, leading to injuries. An examination of the remaining consignments revealed that propellants inside some of the cartridges had been replaced with ground explosives with three or four times design-pressure, with the aim of bursting them in the breach.
0515 GMT: Syria. While the first day of the Eid al-Adha ceasefire, due to last until Monday, brought an easing of clashes in some parts of the country, the overall picture was marked by clashes and a car bomb in Damascus.
The bomb in the south of the capital, near a makeshift children's playground, killed five people and wounded 32, according to State TV. The opposition said 10 people were slain, as each side blamed the other for the explosive.
The fighting was mainly in the north of the country, in Aleppo Province, in parts of Homs controlled by insurgents, and around a regime military base near the key, opposition-held town of Maarat al-Numan. Activists also reported gunfire in Douma, near Damascus.
The Local Coordination Committees claimed 103 people were killed by security forces, including 39 in Damascus and its suburbs; 22 in Aleppo Province, four of whom were Free Syrian Army members; 12 in Homs Province; 11 in Idlib Province; 9 in Daraa Province; 7 in Deir Ez Zor Province; and in Hama Province.
The LCC alleged that regime forces broke the ceasefire on 292 occasions, 176 of them in Damascus and its suburbs, with 64 areas hit by mortars and 30 by artillery.