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Syria Feature: How Russia Flew In Tons of Money to Keep Damascus Afloat br>
Bahrain Propaganda 101: The Regime Turns Britain's Criticism Into Praise br>
Sunday's Egypt, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Morsi Faces a Protest of Judges and Tents
2140 GMT: Egypt. Mohamed al-Qamash, a journalist for Al-Siyasi magazine, has reportedly been arrested near the US embassy in Cairo. Qamash was reportedly in Simon Bolivar Square, near a protest for Gaber Salah who was killed on Sunday, when a fire broke out. According to the report, he was beaten and his cell phone was confiscated.
2105 GMT: Syria. Earlier today, the CFDPC, a coalition of activists who report on Damascus and its suburbs, posted this dire message, with accompanying video, about the largest suburbs west of Damascus, Darayya:
A new massacre was committed by regime forces that arrested and killed at least 30 displaced people who fled their homes in Daraya and found refuge in the nearby areas. The victims were also tortured.
The LCC has reported that there were 28 bodies, and they have identified 6 of them:
They were martyred after they had beed arrested a few days ago on the borders of the town while they were trying to flee the shelling of their town.
2047 GMT: Syria. In the past, insurgents have used car bombs, and even remote-controlled cars, to attack military checkpoints in Syria. There has not been a lot of that lately, as efforts by the FSA have been more focused on attacking and capturing territory through more traditional means.
However, there are often rumors of attacks away from the cameras. It's been a long time since we've seen anything quite like this, however.
According to sources, the Ahrar AlSham brigade used this remote-controlled vehicle to destroy a military checkpoint on the road to Idlib city, which now seems to be firmly in the crosshairs of the Syrian insurgency. It appears as though some sort of heav ordnance, possibly captured from one of the military bases that has fallen, was used as the primary charge:
The video is dated November 23.
The agreement, reached with top judicial authorities, would leave most of Mr. Morsi’s actions subject to review by the courts, but preserve a crucial power: protecting the constitutional council from being dissolved by the courts before it finishes its work.
The Constitutional Council, however, was a key part of people's anger at Morsi. Not only was he effectively placing himself above the control of the judiciary, something this settlement may fix, but the Constitutional Council has been widely criticized for having too strong a presence of Muslim Brothers. With large protests scheduled tomorrow, it is unclear whether this will temper the anti-Morsi firestorm that has taken hold in Tahrir Square since Thursday.
The Muslim Brotherhood has decided to postpone a mass protest it had called for Tuesday in Cairo in the interest of preventing violence, an official from the Islamist group's Freedom and Justice Party said on Misr 25 TV channel.
Gaza Watch. Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy political director of Hamas, has said that Tehran must reconsider its support for the Syrian regime if it does not want to alienate Arab public opinion: “Iran’s position in the Arab world, it’s no longer a good position.”
Marzouk added, “It has to address its position, so as not to lose public opinion."
Hamas has relocated its leadership abroad from Damascus to Qatar and Egypt amid the conflict in Syria that began with mass protests against the Assad regime last year.
Marzouk asserted, “Iran asked Hamas to adopt a closer position to Syria. Hamas refused, and this has affected our relationship with Iran.
A Syrian warplane also launched three bombs or rockets at a rebel command center in the northwest of the country near the Turkish border on Monday without causing casualties, an AFP journalist said.
The aerial attack on the town of Atme occurred around 10:00 am (0800 GMT), the reporter said from the site. The target was a school that houses a military command and the Damascus Eagles rebel brigade.
The reporter said three houses, a garden and a road were damaged. Residents spoke of three bombs while others said rockets caused the damage.
A prominent activist adds context, adding that the part of the camp that was hit was under construction:
most from atmeh refugee camp trying to go to turkey. that camp is horrible, the facilities in it are not good but turks said it would b safe— (@HamaEcho) November 26, 2012
refugee camp near bab al hawa is mainly destroyed, it was nearly finished. thankfully not used yet so no injury or death. atmeh camp is fine— (@HamaEcho) November 26, 2012
An eyewitness describes one of the bombings:
Describing the bombing of the FSA base, opposition activist Ahmed, who lives within a few blocks of it, said: “Two Syrian fighter jets came and fired five rockets. Three have hit farm areas and another two hit buildings near the base.”
Monday’s strike was one of the closest to the Turkish border carried out by Syrian jets. Ahmed said it was the first time they targeted the FSA base set up by senior rebel Mustafa al-Sheikh when he crossed over to Syria from Turkey two months ago.
Rebels fired anti-aircraft guns at the jets but they were flying too high to be hit, activists said. “I think the reason for the raid may have something to do with increased weapons movements (from Turkey),” Ahmed said.
The story is interesting for many reasons. First of all, it is the first time since Turkey started to return fire at the Assad regime that the regime has conducted an attack this close to the border. For months, the FSA has operated in northern Turkey in an apparent no-fly zone, as the regime has been scared to touch FSA positions this close to the border. This was a test - and though it missed its targets, it perhaps proved that Turkey is not as trigger-happy as the Syrian regime had feared.
This also comes just after Turkey announced plans to set up Patriot missiles on the other side of the border, a move that Turkey insists is not for the purposes of establishing a no-fly zone in Syria. Once these missiles are in place, a bombing raid this close to the border would be very risky for Assad's air force.
1725 GMT: Israel and Gaza. Israel Defense Forces are playing up the shooting and killing of a Bedouin as an "attempted terror attack", after he broke into a house in the southern border community of Sde Avraham and stabbed a woman.
The IDF have not ruled out a "simple robbery", but spokeswoman Avital Leibovich is keen to portray this as a Gazan breach of the border:
The woman is a mother of 4 kids. She was trying to protect her children as the #Gazan man infiltrated and broke into her home.— Avital Leibovich (@AvitalLeibovich) November 26, 2012
The shipment included Grad rockets and other "high-grade weapons". Three suspects were detained for questioning.
Insurgents have carried out a series of attacks against security forces in the Peninsula, killing 16 border guards in one incident in August.
1702 GMT: Syria. Earlier the LCC reported that a checkpoint on the road between Deir Ez Zor and al Raqqah fell to the FSA. Meanwhile, with the base of the 46th regiment having fallen into the FSA's hands, the Tishrine Dam captured, the FSA maneuvering east, west, and north of Aleppo, and the road from Aleppo being threatened by the FSA to the south, the FSA's plan is increasingly clear - surround and isolate Aleppo, so that even if the large bases inside the city stay in regime hands, they will be isolated from the rest of the conflict:
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1539 GMT: Egypt. We're all familiar with this chant - "the people want the fall of the regime." We're also all familiar with the location - Tahrir Square, and the surrounding streets, in Cairo. But this video is not from January of 2011 - it's from this weekend:
1522 GMT: Syria. Back from a meeting to find a rapidly rising death toll across Syria.
According to the Local Coordination Committees, 67 people have already been killed today nationwide:
29 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its Suburbs, 9 martyrs in Aleppo, 7 martyrs in Homs, 8 martyrs in Daraa, 4 martyrs in Hama, 4 martyrs in Daraa, 4 martyrs in Quneitra and 2 martyrs in Deir Ezzor.
The numbers in an around Damascus are elevated, as sources report that many of the suburbs have been hit by air strikes and shelling campaigns. This video reportedly shows a home burning after an explosion in Darayya, a city just west of Damascus, one of the hardest hit places in recent weeks:
Smoke rising from Darayya, reportedly after many bombs were dropped by Assad airforces:
1341 GMT: Syria. The Associated Press summarizes the latest headlines by noting that the Free Syrian Army has captured the Tisreen Dam in Aleppo province, have signed a truce with Kurdish PYD/PKK fighters in Ras al Ain, on the border with Turkey, and (picking up on news we broke late Saturday) the FSA has also captured a major helicopter base east of Damascus.
While the PYD/PKK truce is fragile, the significant news is the dam capture:
Amateur videos posted online showed gunmen inside the dam’s operations room as an employee sat in front of five screens speaking by telephone about the level of water behind the dam. Another video showed gunman in front of dozens of green wooden boxes apparently full of munitions.
A gunman opened one of the boxes showing that it contained hand grenades. ‘‘The Free Syrian Army has fully liberated the Tishrin Dam,’’ one of the rebels could be heard saying.
The Tishrin Dam is a significant power source for Aleppo province. This potentially gives the FSA the ability to supply power to areas under their control while cutting power to the areas still under regime control.
This morning, NPR carried a report from a recent defector from the FSA who said that Assad is pulling his forces, especially tanks and aircraft, back from the front lines and toward Damascus. This matches what our sources have been reporting for more than a week. The increasing pace of FSA victories against major bases in Deir Ez Zor and peripheral bases in Aleppo is an indication that the FSA is taking advantage of Assad's withdrawal. The interesting development, then, is that despite these moves to keep the capital more secure, the FSA has still been able to capture several large bases both east and west of Damascus.
And today there may have been another development. Though we have independently verified this report, Sky News, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says that a major pro-Assad Palestinian refugee camp has been captured by the FSA in Damascus:
'Rebels stormed a Popular Front-General Command (PFLP-GC) training camp in the Rihan area of Damascus province, after violent clashes with local fighters,' the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday.
The training camp 'functioned for over 30 years as a base of resistance, graduating thousands of Palestinian youth and hundreds of guerrillas who have humiliated the Zionist enemy with important operations,' the PFLP-GC said in a statement condemning the attack on Saturday.
State news agency SANA quoted an official as saying that the attack was 'carried out by armed terrorist groups ... Mossad proxies working for the Zionist enemy in response to operations carried out by the Front against Tel Aviv'.
It should be noted that the PFLP-GC has claimed responsibility for the bus attack in Tel Aviv that injured 29 Israeli's.
James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas for getting us started today.
The Ministry of Health has reports said that the one dead and many of the dozens injured in clashes since last Monday have been hit by birdshot.
The fighting has come amid protests marking the one-year anniversary of the deaths of more than 40 demonstrators outside Government buildings.
Gamal Eddin said that birdshot injuries sustained by protesters ---, includng those suffered by the slain April 6 Youth Movement member Gaber Salah --- reveal they had been hit at close range. indicating they were shot by their colleagues.
“The [police] forces are the victims here,” the minister argued.
0943 GMT: Turkey. Turkish media report that six insurgents of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), including a field commander, have been killed in an army raid in Diyarbakir Province in southeastern Turkey.
0938 GMT: Egypt. Reuters reports that the stock market, after a fall of almost 10% on Sunday, has opened another 4% lower today.
Barak is expected to be succeeded by current Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman if the Netanyahu coalition wins a majority in the Parliamentary vote.
0930 GMT: Gaza. The BBC's Paul Danahar brings news of another death from last week's Israeli attacks:
The brother of BBC's Jehad Masharawi, whose baby boy was killed when a shell hit his house in #Gaza, died of his severe burn injuries today— Paul Danahar (@pdanahar) November 26, 2012
Ahmad Masharawi had been trying to carry 11 month old Omar to safety when the house was hit engulfing them both in flames. #Gaza— Paul Danahar (@pdanahar) November 26, 2012
The "David's Sling" system, designed to stop mid-range missiles with ranges of up to 300 kilometres (180 miles), downed its first target in a drill in southern Israel, the military said.
Israel has already deployed Arrow systems for longer-range threats and the Iron Dome system against short-range rockets.
The military said David's Sling, which is on schedule for deployment in 2014, would "provide an additional layer of defense against ballistic missiles." The next generation of the Arrow, now in the development stage, is set to be deployed in 2016.
0730 GMT: Kuwait. Ian Black of The Guardian posts an overview of the political tension in Kuwait, "Emir's Change to Election Rules Stirs Signs of Arab Spring".
The rebels have been gaining strength and becoming more organized, he said, and the government forces have been slowly contracting under pressure.
The government’s continued loss of bases...raises questions about how long it will be able to operate in the northern provinces of Idlib and Aleppo. Ground supply routes linking those provinces to Damascus, the capital, have slowly been cut off throughout the spring and summer, as rebels have mastered the use of roadside bombs and gradually overrun government bases and checkpoints along the way....
Rebels have assaulted Taftanaz air base in Idlib, and captured two major bases and an oil field in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour and a large base outside Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.
Striking at government air power is militarily and psychologically important for the rebels, for whom aircraft pose a significant threat because of their firepower and unlimited reach. Yet the rebels have so far been unable, because of international reluctance and opposition disunity, to obtain significant amounts of antiaircraft weaponry that could help them turn the tide in the conflict, which began as a protest movement and gradually turned into a civil war after soldiers fired on demonstrators.
0630 GMT: Syria. A Sunday marked by activist enthusiasm over another victory --- the weekend capture of a major regime airbase, east of Damascus --- was tempered by news of the killing of 10 children by a regime shell that fell on a playground in a suburb of the capital.
The children were among 117 people slain on Sunday, according to the Local Coordination Committees. Fifty-five of the deaths were in Damascus and its suburbs.
Thousands of protesters remain in Cairo's Tahrir Square, while clashes in the Nile Delta town of Damanhour killed a 15-year-old Muslim Brotherhood member and injured 60 others. More than 500 people have reportedly been injured in fighting since last Thursday.