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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Insurgents Change the Situation on the Ground

Friday's attack on protesters in Aleppo in Syria

See also Israel-Palestine Live Coverage: Air Assault on Gaza Expands --- Ground War Next?
Friday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: International Meeting in London Discusses Support for "New" Opposition

0009 GMT: Syria/Israel Israel has fired into Syria. AFP reports:

Israeli artillery fired into Syria early Sunday after gunfire from Syria hit an army vehicle but caused no injuries, the Israeli military said, in the latest spillover of violence from the bloody civil war raging across the ceasefire line.

"Shots were fired at IDF (Israeli army) the central Golan Heights," an army spokeswoman told AFP. "Soldiers responded with artillery fire towards the source of the shooting."

This is the third time this week that Israel has fired into Syria, however it is the first time since Israel began its attack on Gaza on Wednesday.

2159 GMT: Syria.. he Local Coordination Committees report 120 people have been killed today, including 63 in Damascus and its suburbs.

2119 GMT: Syria The Local Coordiation Committee in Damascus, an opposition activist group, reports that of "several" injuries after 3 shells fell on Jalbout Building in Schools Street at the Palestinian refugee Yarmouk Camp in Damascus earlier today.

Claimed footage of the aftermath of the attack has been uploaded to YouTube by Ugrait news:

1910 GMT: Egypt Another group was left the Constituent Assembly. The nationalist liberal Wafd Party announced it was leaving the assembly following a meeting earlier today. Ahram Online reports:

The Wafd explained in a press statement that the decision to leave the assembly was based on a belief that the drafting of the national charter is not consensual and does not reflect the aspirations of the January 25 Revolution to build a civil, democratic and modern state.

The party will hold a meeting on Sunday to coordinate a unified stand on the constitution with the country's different political forces, during which its party head Sayed El-Badawy will announce the decision to withdraw.

1817 GMT: Egypt Egyptian churches are officially withdrawing their three members from the Constituent Assembly, reports the Egypt Independent, following comments by Acting Coptic Orthodox Pope Bishop Pachomius.

Speaking at a press conference, Pachomius said:

The Egyptian churches [have] sensed discomfort at the trends that prevailed [while] drafting the constitutional provisions. The constitution ... in its current form does not meet the desired national consensus and does not reflect the pluralistic identity of Egypt, [which has been] entrenched across generations.

Members representing our churches participated with the spirit of love, openness and patriotism in the assembly's work, but the outcome came contrary to what we expected of a national consensus.

To preserve the Egyptian identity, we withdraw from the Constituent Assembly.

In a ceremony tomorrow, Bishop Pachomius will be officially enthroned as the new Coptic Pope.

1502 GMT: Bahrain Main opposition political society AlWefaq has issued a report documenting the attack on Friday prayers on 9 November. AlWefaq's spiritual leader Sheikh Isa Qassim was holding Friday prayers in Duraz, however security forces prevented citizens from attending. AlWefaq claim that 26 checkpoints were set up by police to control access to Duraz. Some were dispersed by security forces through the use of tear gas. AlWefaq argues that the governments actions were in violation of both domestic and international law. The report cites several eyewitness accounts (the first two are anonymous):

S.H.: I went out at 9:30am with my wife and daughter, I was prevented from crossing al-Qadam roundabout, I drove through a bumpy road to avoid security roadblocks, until I reached a point between Barbar and Duraz where I was stopped at a checkpoint. There, one car tried to cross the roadblock and was hit by a teargas canister breaking the cars window. I had to go back.

A.Z: We were not allowed in Karbabad, we insisted and argued at every checkpoint around the village, but the answer was no, leave, don’t stop here. At the end, I was aimed at with shotgun to the face, he was about to shoot, simply because he was suspicious that I was taking photos of the forces with my phone.

Lawyer Abdullah Shamlawi: We had parked our cars north of al-Murkh village to walk it to the Friday prayer behind Ayatollah Qassim but teargas was shot towards us.

16-year old Ali Abbas Radhi died after being struck by a car when he was reportedly fleeing from police. The Bahrain government denies this, describing the charge as "wholly and fully incorrect". In a statement, the Bahrain government claimed that the worshipers "were turned away by Security forces in order to maintain safety in the area".

1450 GMT: Turkey/Syria Reuters carries an unconfirmed report from German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung which claims --- citing unnamed sources --- that Turkey will ask NATO on Monday for permission to set up missiles on its border with Syria. Sueddeutsche Zeitung also claims that up to 170 German soldiers could be dispatched as part of the mission. Asked about the claims, a Turkish government official said:

As we have said before, there have been talks between Turkey and NATO and NATO allies on various issues regarding the security risks and challenges and possible responses to issues regarding Turkey-NATO territories. Normally we could not reveal the nature of NATO deliberations while they continue.

1437 GMT: Egypt Another tragic accident has killed at least 12 citizens in south Giza after a bus collided with a lorry. At least 47 people, including many young children, have also died after a train crashed into a bus.

1430 GMT: Syria An op-ed in the New York Times on Thursday by Simon Adams, the director of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect, raised the spectre of future massacres in Syria:

At a recent meeting hosted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Peter W. Galbraith, a former American ambassador who witnessed ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, made a chilling prediction. "The next genocide in the world," he said, "will likely be against the Alawites in Syria."

A few months ago, talk of possible massacres of Alawites, who dominate Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, seemed like pro-regime propaganda. Now, it is a real possibility.


Governments that have publicly committed themselves to helping end Syria’s misery, including the United States, must immediately do two things to help prevent a violent backlash against Alawites and other minorities. First, they must impress upon the newly united Syrian opposition that support depends on strict adherence to international humanitarian law. Armed groups who advocate fracturing Syria along sectarian or regional lines should be denied funds; there should be absolutely no aid for rebel groups who target Alawites and other minorities for reprisals or who commit war crimes.

Second, outside governments should intensify their efforts to hold all perpetrators of mass atrocities accountable at the International Criminal Court, regardless of their allegiance. That also means allocating funds for additional United Nations human rights monitors on the Syrian border in order to collect evidence and testimony for future prosecutions.

1417 GMT: Syria The new Syrian opposition coalition has appointed an Ambassador to France, following this mornings announcement by French President Hollande and new opposition head Moaz al-Khatib. AP reports:

Al-Khatib said the new envoy will be academic Mounzir Makhous, describing him as "one of the first to speak of liberty" in Syria. He holds four doctorate degrees and belongs to the Muslim Alawite sect of Islam, like Syrian President Bashar Assad, al-Khatib said. The new envoy was at the talks Saturday in Paris.

It was widely believed that France might agree to the appointment of an ambassador but not before a provisional Syrian government was formed. Al-Khatib suggested that a provisional government would come quickly.

"We have no hidden agenda," al-Khatib said in a bid to reassure other nations.

1408 GMT: Iraq Reuters reports that "at least seven Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims from Iran and Pakistan" have been killed in a city north of Baghdad today after a car bomb exploded near a restaurant. At least 25 other citizens were injured in the blast.

1402 GMT: Syria The United Nations has written a letter of protest to the Syrian government after the regime claimed it had permission from the UN to attack rebels in the Golan Heights. In the letter, sent late on Thursday, UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous wrote:

We regard it as a serious matter that Syrian authorities would claim that a United Nations senior official would approve activities in violation of Security Council resolutions.

Ladsous went on to say that the UN "strongly denied" the claim by Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad that the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) commander had given the approval for Syrian military operations.

On the contrary, the force commander informed the Syrian authorities that should the SAAF (Syrian Arab Armed Forces) proceed with the operations, UNDOF would protest officially.

1359 GMT: Egypt/Libya Border guards reportedly foiled an attempt to smuggle 35 missiles into Egypt from Libya yesterday. The Egyptian Independent reports:

Armed Forces spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Ali said on his Facebook account that after intelligence services received information that individuals would attempt to smuggle weapons across the Libya-Egypt border, then Egypt set up the necessary ambushes and patrols to detain them.

The border guards attempted to cross 15 km west of the international mark number 19, 8 km north of the Salloum crossing. They carried six sacks that included 35 land missiles coming from Libya, Ali said.

1317 GMT: Egypt Yesterday, a jihadist group in Sinai claimed responsibility for the rockets fired into Israel on Wednesday, as reported by Al Shorouk newspaper. The newspaper has shared a video, reportedly by the group, Shura El Mujahadeen, claiming to show the launch of the rockets (h/t Egyptian Chronicles):

There were also further reports of rockets being fired into Israel from Sinai last night. The IDF has said they are investigating.

1301 GMT:Syria More on the claims that rebels took Hamdan airport yesterday. An activist website describes the site as "a pumping station with a couple of short 1.2km runways and no other obvious military airport equipment", adding that "there is at least one tank which has been captured, BMPs and military trucks". The captured tank can be seen in this video:

There is also a currently unverified claim by Washington based activist academic Murhaf Jouejati that there were "37 defectors from Hamadan air force base".

1238 GMT:Syria Reuters reports that a Turkish cameraman who was captured by Syrian forces in August has been released. Cuneyt Unal, who works for the US funded al-Hurra station went missing shortly after entering Syria in August. His colleague, Bashar Fahmi from Jordan, is still missing.

1235 GMT: Egypt A tragic accident in Southern Egypt has left at least 47 people dead, many young children, after a train crashed into a bus taking children to their kindergarten.

1107 GMT: Syria. Reports continue that the Free Syrian Army has taken Hamdan airport in the northeast, wth activists saying that this video verifies the claim:

1049 GMT: Tunisia. A second suspect in the September attack on the US Embassy in Tunis has died in custody.

Muhammed Bakhti passed away in hospital two days after the death of 26-year-old student Bechir Gholli. They were among dozens of Salafists on hunger strike over prison conditions.

Bakhti was a student at the Faculty of Literature in Tunis. Taking part in armed clashes in 2007 against the security forces of former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, he was arrested and held until after the 2011 uprising that toppled the regime.

1040 GMT: Syria. Moaz al-Khatib, the head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, held talks today in Paris with French President Francois Hollande on "ways and means to assure the protection of liberated zones, humanitarian aid for refugees and the constitution of a provisional government".

Hollande and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met Khatib and SNC Vice Presidents Riad Seif and Suheir Atassi, four days after France became the first Western country to recognize the Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people.

The three SNC leaders met British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London on Friday.

Hague said Britain would decide within days whether to officially recognise the Coalition. He set the conditions of expanded support within Syria and observance of human rights and international law.

0640 GMT: Syria. We noted this week, amid all the political manoeuvring over the creation of the opposition Syrian National Coalition and possible support for it, that the effective change was coming through the insurgency inside the country.

More evidence for that on Friday --- a one-day international meeting in London reached no apparent conclusions on aid to the Coalition and the insurgents. The British hosts made their caution clear in the morning, setting conditions for formal recognition of the opposition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Doing so, they followed the US line and maintained distance from France, Turkey, and the six Arab States of the Gulf Cooperation Council, all of whom have given their endorsement to the Coalition.

So the day's telling events came from protests, deadly clashes, and the insurgent advance. The insurgents, having taken Al Bukamal in the northeast, pressed the advantage, attacking Hamdan airport and claiming the killing and defection of dozens of regime soldiers.

The Local Coordination Committees documented 497 demonstrations throughout the country, with 121 of them in Hama Province and 104 in Idlib Province. 

Some of those protesters paid the highest of costs. Dozens were reportedly killed in the Bustan Qasr section of Aleppo, cut down by security forces. They were among 122 people who were slain on Friday.

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