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Egypt, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Morsi Faces a Protest of Judges and Tents

Insurgents celebrated with a captured BMP armoured vehicle following Saturday's takeover of the Marj al Sultan helicopter base

See also Bahrain Propaganda 101: The Regime Turns Britain's Criticism Into Praise
Saturday's Egypt, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Morsi v. The Protests

2146 GMT: Syria. Activists, including the Local Coordination Committees, are reporting the death of 10 children today when a regime shell hit a playground in the Damascus suburb of Deir Assafer. Video (Warning: Graphic Images) has been posted of the casualties.

2106 GMT: Gaza. Israeli security forces have shot a Gazan near the border fence east of Khan Younis.

Israeli military sources said "Palestinians gathered at the fence, and a military force shot rubber bullets in the air", adding that they were not aware of injuries.

Hamas had deployed police to prevent clashes after Israeli troops killed one Gazan and wounded 19 in the "no-go" area on Friday (see 1659).

2043 GMT: Egypt. State media are reporting that President Morsi will meet the Supreme Judicial Council on Monday to discuss the conflict over the Presidential decrees expanding his powers, including immunity from judicial oversight.

Six more members of the Constituent Assembly, tasked to draft the Constitution, have withdrawn since President Morsi issued his decrees on Thursday.

Twenty-two of the 100 original members have now resigned. Seven reserve members have also quit. All come from either secular political forces or represent Christian churches.

The assembly met Saturday with less than half of its members in attendance.

Assembly President Hossam al-Gheriany, said to be close to the Muslim Brotherhood, urged members to return and finish what they had started.

2033 GMT: Egypt. The Freedom and Justice Party has written on its Facebook page that a 15-year-old Muslim Brotherhood member was killed in clashes in the Nile Delta city of Damanhour.

“Islam Fathi Masoud was martyred and 60 were injured in an attack on the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters with no presence from police forces," the FJP wrote.

The clashes between Brotherhood and opposition groups started on Saturday evening, injuring 26. They resumed on Sunday after about 1,500 Brotherhood members attended a rally at the group's headquarters in support of President Morsi's expansion of his powers.

Anti-Brotherhood protesters reportedly attacked the rally with Molotov cocktails and rocks. The Islamist group responded with rocks and truncheons.

Footage of the clashes:

2022 GMT: Gaza. A Hamas spokesman has said the movement will release all prisoners from the rival Fatah Party who have been detained in connection with the political dispute between the factions.

"The Hamas government has decided to pardon all cases against Fatah members which are related to the internal division since 2006," Taher al-Nunu said at a press conference in Gaza City, The government had decided to set up a committee "to implement this decision and establish a new stage of reconciliation".

The Ministry of Interior said there were 22 Fatah members in jail in Gaza.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights welcomed the decision and said it hoped the move "will push forward the process of the Palestinian reconciliation talks, and that it will mark the end of the division, which has been ongoing for 6 years".

2017 GMT: Egypt. Al Jazeera English is reporting that one person has been killed and 60 wounded in an attack on a Muslim Brotherhood office.

1934 GMT: Saudi Arabia. A procession in Eastern Province asking for release of Muslim prisoners and "raising people from oppression":

1743 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees report 82 people have been killed by security forces today, including 44 in Damascus and its suburbs and 15 in Aleppo Province.

1723 GMT: Syria. Claimed footage of insurgents with a destroyed helicopter and others captured at the Marj al Sultan base near Damascus:

1659 GMT: Gaza. A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Islam Shahwan, has said that police "have been deployed along the Gaza Strip border to preserve the implementation of the truce....Police were deployed Friday night east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, in order to protect the lives of citizens, victims of Israeli aggression."

Earlier on Friday, Israeli soldiers killed a farmer and wounded 19 people when they walked into a 300-metre-wid "no-go" area along the border.

1616 GMT: Egypt. Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekky, who came out in criticism of President Morsi's expansion of his powers, has started mediation efforts between the executive and judicial authorities.

The Muslim Brotherhood has said it will move its mass demonstration on Tuesday from downtown's Abdeen Square to Cairo University headquarters, thus avoiding clashes with a rival protest --- already announced as a challenge to Morsi --- planned for Tahrir Square.

1610 GMT: Syria. Footage has been posted which claims to be of regime soldiers who were killed as they attacked the Damascus suburb of Darayya this weekend (see 1345 GMT).

1550 GMT: Egypt. The Egyptian Presidency said today that it is committed to engaging "all political forces" to reach common ground on the Constitution and stressed the "temporary nature" of President Mursi's decree expanding his powers.

At the same time, the statement maintained, "This declaration is deemed necessary in order to hold accountable those responsible for the corruption as well as other crimes during the previous regime and the transitional period."

The statement followed division among Cabinet ministers over the declaration. Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekky said he had concerns with the decree and that Morsy should have entered into a dialogue with other political forces before issuing it.

However, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Mohamed Mahsoub agreed with the declaration, accusing Morsy’s opponents of “a prior decision to work toward overthrowing him. The protests preceded [Morsy’s] decisions, followed [his] decisions and will resume.”

There were also division within the Muslim Brotherhood, as Ahmed Fahmi, chairman of the Islamist-dominated Shura Council --- the upper house of Parliament --- also challenged the decrees: "We had hopes that President Morsi would put the constitutional declaration before a national referendum," saying Morsi's order "has severely divided the nation into Islamists and civilians" and calling for the President to hold a dialogue over the matter.

Fahmi is a leading member of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and a relative of Morsi.

In Alexandria, scuffles broke out between lawyers affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood with those critical of the decrees.

Brotherhood lawyers and others who support the declaration called for a vote of no confidence in the leader of the lawyers' syndicate, Sameh Ashour, as well as the leader of its Alexandria branch, Abdel-Halim Allam.

1510 GMT: Syria. A demonstration on Aleppo Road in Hama today:


1430 GMT: Egypt. Clashes in Beheira Province, on the northern coast, last night:

1345 GMT: Syria. Regime forces have been shelling the Damascus suburub of Darayya this weekend, and there are fears that they might try to storm the area.

Hundreds of people were killed in the suburb at the end of August by shelling and door-to-door attacks:

Video of destruction in Darayya yesterday:

1320 GMT: Syria. Some international media outlets have now picked up on last night's capture of the Marj al Sultan helicopter base, east of Damascus, by insurgents.

Claimed footage of opposition fighters inside the base:

1240 GMT: Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party has published the Brotherhood statement defending President Morsi's expansion of his powers: "The majority of Egyptians, including the Muslim Brotherhood, strongly support the President's Decrees, seek to build constitutional institutions and achieve the demands of the people and the revolution."

The Brotherhood "therefore call[ed] upon all national, revolutionary, Muslim and youth groups and movements to join protest marches in liberty squares across Egypt's provinces, after Sunset prayers on Sunday to reaffirm their support for these Decrees. Furthermore, we invite them all for a million-man march and demonstration in Abdeen Square on Tuesday for the same goal."

1215 GMT: Egypt. Clashes between protesters and security forces have continued for a seventh day near Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Clashes began last Monday after a rally commemorating the events of November 2011 on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, when security forces killed 45 people during a protest against the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

Today protesters, after rallying at the American University in Cairo, hurled stones at security forces, who fired tear gas and attempted to drive people toward Tahrir. Clashes also broke out around the American Embassy in Garden City.

The military built a concrete wall on Qasr al-Aini Street to prevent protesters from reaching the Cabinet and Parliamentary buildings.

The clashes occurred as demonstrators pitched tents in Tahrir Square in protest at President Morsi's decrees on Thursday extending his powers.

1115 GMT: Turkey and Israel. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has confirmed that Ankara entered talks with Israel, before the outbreak of the Gaza War on 14 November, to repair relations after years of tension.

Davutoğlu alao said, "There was contact with the Israeli side to end the fighting in Gaza, which was causing human suffering," as well as discussions with Hamas political director Khaled Meshaal

Reports emerged Saturday --- see EA's Live Coverage --- that senior Turkish diplomat Feridun Sinirlioğlu met with an envoy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Geneva to discuss the resumption of diplomatic relations.


Ties have been strained by the 2008/9 Israeli attack on Gaza and the killing of nine Turkish civilians when Israeli commandos attacked the "Freedom Flotilla", taking humanitarian aid to Gaza, in May 2010.

Davutoglu said the request for the meeting came from Israel side and said Turkey would not compromise on demands for an apology, compensation, and an easing of the blockade on Gaza.

1107 GMT: Syria. AFP reports on the debate over erasing the regime from a Kurdish town after security forces left:

Residents and militias in Derik have removed almost all the once-ubiquitous presidential portraits from official buildings....

They have also taken down a statue in the town center of President Bashar al-Assad's late father and predecessor Hafez over the past week.

But one place the two leaders still look down from their official portraits is on the wall of the headmaster's office in the town's secondary school.

"We don't have any problem with these pictures," says English teacher Suzanne, 27. "Assad is our president. I hope he'll stay, but I don't think so," she adds resignedly.

Before the revolt, "I could do whatever I wanted, I could travel wherever I wanted and now I can't because of terrorists," she says, using the standard regime term for rebels fighting to unseat Assad.

The teachers have removed Assad's portraits from classrooms so as not to be seen as regime collaborators, but have left up the ones in headmaster Adnan's office, where they sit on couches at break time and chat.

1047 GMT: Egypt. Insurgents have bombed security bases under construction in the Sinai Peninsula, injuring three people.

A massive explosion partly destroyed the wall of a security base being built in Rafah at the border with the Gaza Strip, without causing injuries. Further south, three workers were injured by a separate blast that damaged a compound in Quseima for a security agency guarding a pipeline that exports gas to Jordan.

1040 GMT: Egypt. Shares fell 8.7% in early trade on Sunday, the first session since President Mursi's decrees expanding his powers.

The exchange had suspended trade for 30 minutes soon after opening when the index tumbled by more than the maximum allowed limit.

1033 GMT: Gaza. A leading Islamic cleric, Suleiman al-Daya, has declared that it is a sin to violate the cease-fire. "Honoring the truce, which was sponsored by our Egyptian brethren, is the duty of each and every one of us. Violating it shall constitute a sin," the fatwa read.

0903 GMT: Syria. Al Jazeera English has posted an interactive graphic of regime officials who have defected and been killed. The graphic, which includes videos and details from multiple sources, notes the latest defections as the head judge in Deir Ez Zor Province, Ali Aoun, and General Mounir Al-Hariri of the Deir Ez Zor Police Department.

Al Jazeera cites 73 defections --- three Cabinet members, 4 MPs, 13 diplomats, and 53 senior military & security officials.

0753 GMT: Iraq. Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi said Saturday that "significant progress" has been made on resolving an Arab-Kurd crisis, after tension was raised by deployments of Iraqi national and Kurdish forces in the north near the disputed city of Kirkuk.

"A technical and military meeting --- the first in this case -- will be held next Monday in the Iraqi ministry of defence in Baghdad," al-Nujaifi said.

Al-Nujaifi has been holding talks since Wednesday with political leaders in Baghdad and the Kurdish region to contain the crisis.

However, a statement on Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani's website meanwhile said he would not attend a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in the city of Najaf.

The statement said the current crisis is not a personal issue but "a problem of governance in Iraq, and focuses on a lack of commitment to the permanent constitution" and to agreements concluded by the federal government.

More Kurdish troops and tanks were mobilised on Saturday and moved towards the disputed areas. Anwar Haji Osman, the deputy minister for Kurdish military affairs said they will hold their positions unless Iraqi forces made a move, for example, into Kirkuk.

"If they overstep the line, we will strike them," Osman said.

Peyamner News Agency has posted a series of photographs of the Kurdish deployment.

0738 GMT: Gaza. Only four days after the ceasefire, London's Sunday Times --- a long-time outlet for Israeli propaganda --- fills the role again with the claim that Israel's spy satellites have spotted an Iranian ship being loaded with missiles which "analysts" say may be headed for Gaza.

The cargo "may include Fajr-5 rockets" and "Shahab-3 ballistic missiles, which could be stationed in Sudan to pose a direct threat to Israel". An "Israeli source" says, “With a lot of effort, Iran has skillfully built a strategic arm pointing at Israel from the south."

0730 GMT: Gaza. Israeli intelligence is putting out the expectation that the new head of Hamas' military wing, replacing the assassinated Ahmed al-Jabari, will be al-Jabari's deputy Marwan Issa.

Al-Jabari was killed in the first wave of Israeli airstrikes when it launched the Gaza War on 14 November.

Officially, Hamas' military wing is led by Mohammed Def, but he has been limited to a formal role since he was seriously wounded in an Israeli assassination attempt in 2005.

Like al-Jabari, Issa was involved in the 2006 capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the negotiations over his release five years later. He was wounded in an Israeli assassination attempt in August 2006.

0640 GMT: Syria. Saturday's dramatic news came late, with reports and videos claiming that the Marj al Sultan helicopter base, 15 kilometres (9 miles) east of Damascus, had been attacked by the Free Syrian Army.

The insurgents said they had destroyed two helicopters and captured and damaged armoured vehicles.

The Local Coordination Committees said 82 people were killed by security forces on Saturday, including 35 martyrs in Damascus and its suburbs and 18 in Aleppo Province.

0630 GMT: Egypt. A two-front protest built against President Morsi, two days after his decrees expanding his powers, on Saturday.

Judges and the Prosecutor General, whom Morsi dismissed on Thursday, put out high-profile statements. The Supreme Judicial Council, Egypt's highest court authority, said Morsi's move was an "unprecedented attack" and called on the President "to distance this decree from everything that violates the judicial authority". The Council called for a "suspension of work all in courts and prosecution administrations" in protest.

In Cairo's Tahrir Square, the heart of the 2011 uprising against the Mubarak regime, at least Ten thousand people spent the night. Two dozen tents have been set up in the square’s central island. Street vendors are also back, serving food and drinks to the protesters.

Clashes between protesters and the security forces continued on nearby Qasr Al-Ainy Street. 

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