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Egypt, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Will Morsi Give Back His New Powers?

Tahrir Square in Cairo today

2356 GMT: Syria. Another video claims to show the downing of a helicopter - with an interesting twist. In the video, this vehicle opens fire on a helicopter, but the pilots have already jumped out and their parachutes appear to be visible:

We believe this is the same helicopter we documented earlier today, shot down west of Aleppo. We believe that it was hit by a SAM missile, and then it took time to crash, then the pilots jumped, and then nearby anti-aircraft guns opened fire.

It should be noted that in another video men driving a vehicle such as the one in this video take credit for the downing of the helicopter. This video explains why both claims that the FSA shot the helicopter down with a missile and claims that they shot it down with machineguns are consistent.

2340 GMT: Syria. Things have calmed a bit in Damascus - according to sources in the opposition, residents were on edge after unusually high volumes of violence, but the probability of anything dramatic happening tonight is dropping.

By morning we will know answers: Is the airport closed? Is the regime reinforcing the center of the city or the Presidential Palace? Is the FSA prepared to take the fight for Damascus into its final stage?

Frankly, I don't expect that the Assad regime is days away from falling. Likely it's not even weeks. But the FSA's military arm is growing, its arsenal is improving, and the regime is extremely vulnerable. The regime is not immune from the kind of sudden fall that brought down Qaddafi's regime in Tripoli, and tonight was likely the first taste of many more tense nights to come.

2304 GMT: Syria. There have been rumors that all flights to and from the Damascus International Airport have been cancelled - only problem is that there will not be any flights from the airport for another 5 hours, so we'll have no way of knowing until then (the airport is only open 0600-2000 local time, according to their website).

2236 GMT: Syria. Now a trusted activist says that he can confirm reports from residents in Damascus:

2229 GMT: Syria. Rumors are flying that there are clashes in Damascus, the airport has been closed after the entire crew defected (map), and the Presidential Palace is being reinforced as we speak. These are rumors, and frankly they are rumors that there is no evidence to believe. That said, those rumors just became more important because of this claim by the LCC - posts published by the LCC are confirmed by the LCC, though we have not seen additional sources:

Damascus: Fierce clashes are taking place between the Free Syrian Army and the regime's army in the Abasiyeen area.

Even this is disputed, but more claims have surfaced:

The Abasiyeen area is just kilometers from the very center of Assad's power in Damascus (map).

Without concrete proof that there is anything else going on, these may just be rumors. However, every source we have is on edge, waiting to see if rumors turn into something more.

2136 GMT: Syria. With the fall of a helicopter in Aleppo, an air defense base near Damascus, and more videos suggesting that the FSA is surging in Deir Ez Zor, it has already been a significant day.

However, there are a number of other significant reports that we have yet to confirm. For instance, all day we've been tracking a report that the FSA captured a base in Al Safira, east of Aleppo (map), where the FSA claims they have killed up to 70 Assad soldiers and captured a significant amount of equipment. No videos emerged, and though it was a report that was picked up by other media outlets, the story is still unconfirmed.

Then there is an unconfirmed report that a MiG was shot down east of Damascus. The CFDPC has the most detailed account, and they claim that the jet crashed in regime territory, making any footage of the wreckage unlikely:

Emmahat al-Mo'uminin brigade shot down a MIG fighter jet of regime forces in the Eastern Ghouta area of Damascus; the fighter jet fell in the special forces regiment 35 in al-Ghosule area near the Damascus International Airport.

Now there are two more reports, with no video confirmation, that suggest 3 helicopters, not 1, were shot down today:

Concerning the 3rd helicopter...

We can't call any single report like these confirmed without some sort of hard evidence, and among all these reports only the report about the MiG shot down east of Damascus was reported by multiple sources. Still, if a small percentage of these unconfirmed reports are true, it suggests that the FSA is more successful, not less, than we've been able to prove thus far.

2047 GMT: Syria. An activist picks up two videos that confirm reports we heard earlier.

First, there have been reports all day that Syrian aircraft attacked the Tishrin Dam east of Aleppo in an apparent attempt to destroy the dam and unleash the water behind it. Now, Markito0171 finds video that appears to be taken near the dam:

Also, Markito0171 finds a 2nd video claiming to show the Saideh Zainab air defense base) the base at which reportedly fell to the FSA earlier today (see update 1645). The base was the headquarters for the regime's 666th Brigade:

2006 GMT: Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood has called on the armed Forces to secure its headquarters in Moqattam, and it has formed committees with Salafi youth to protect headquarters in other governorates.

The Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party also instructed youth to stage protests today outside mosques and main squares, apart from in Cairo, to show support for President Morsi's decrees issued last Thursday.

The group has announced a demonstration outside Cairo University on Friday.

1958 GMT: Egypt The Muslim Brotherhood twitter account reports that a spokesperson for President Morsi has said:

[There is] no turning back, [the] decree is staying, those not willing to reach to a point of stability will be held accountable to God & history.

1916 GMT: Bahrain The Court of Cassation (Bahrain's Supreme Court) will hear the appeal of the 13 political and human rights leaders on December 3rd, according to lawyer Mohammed Al-Jishi. Last month, an appeals court controversially upheld the sentences against all 13 leaders, who were arrested, tortured and sentenced last year before a military court, accused of conspiring to overthrow the regime. The men include leading human rights defender Abdulhadi AlKhawaja, the leader of Wa'ad Ibrahim Sharif and the leader of Haq, Hassan Mushaima, who is reportedly being denied proper medical treatment for his cancer.

1911 GMT: Bahrain. EA's John Horne reports:

A statement was released today by the new "Prisoners of Conscience Coalition" (PCCB). In it, the group announces the start of a new movement to demand rights from within the prison, adding that the "next phase" in the campaign will be "announced in the next few days".

The statement reads in part:

While the [Bahrain] regime continues detaining hundreds of prisoners in order to manipulate the [opposition] movement in the country, whats even more devastating is the reality of the prisoners' circumstances. The abuse stars from the first stages of the usually brutal arrests carried out by security forces and secret agents, to the physical and psychological torture during interrogation, where prisoners are forced to sign confessions which are then used against them in courts that lack any form of justice and independence. Courts that are now internationally known for aiding the illegitimate and criminal AlKhalifa regime.

With that, we realise their must be a movement that parallels the magnitude of the suffering experienced by the prisoners of conscience in Bahrain. A majority of prisoners have agreed that as a group we must enter a new phase to lift the injustices experienced by those detained in the AlKhalifa prisoners for political reasons.

We will go forward in hope of having the support of political institutions, human rights and international organisations and the international community. We hope that the detained national leaders will also join our movement. We ask our people to stand in solidarity with the political prisoners of Bahrain in all their activities in the next phase, the details of which will be announced in the next few days. We ask all the free media to contribute in the coverage of the events in this new prisoners movement.

The statement was shared online by leading human rights activist Zainab AlKhawaja, whose father Abdulhadi AlKhawaja, the founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, is currently serving a life-sentence following his arrest and torture last year. Tweeting about the new movement, Zainab cited South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela:

1906 GMT: Egypt. EA's John Horne reports:

Al Jazeera English journalist Sherine Tadros reports that there have been up to "50 injuries" in clashes in Mahalla between supporters of the President Morsi and his opponents. Independent Egyptian journalist Nadia el-Magd adds the claim that protesters have tried to set the Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters on fire. Journalist Adel Dorra has also reportedly told ON TV that whilst there was "rocks and molotovs" thrown between the two opposing groups, "live rounds" were fired from the Muslim Brotherhood side.

An activist shares this picture of the clashes in Mahalla:

1728 GMT: Syria. Damascus is a mess, and the death toll is rising. The CFDPC posts this report, and several additional videos, from Zabadani, 20 kilometers northwest of Damascus:

renewed shelling this morning from regime forces on residential buildings in the Zabadani area of Damascus; many houses have been destroyed and dozens of people injured. Shelling targeted in particular al-Jesr square, al-Ara and the western neighborhood.

Just outside the capital, in Jobar, the LCC says planes have dropped bombs and artillery shells have rocked the suburbs:

Meanwhile, further north, in Idlib province, approximately 20 people were reportedly killed when an olive press factory was bombed by a Syrian warplane:

Fadi al-Yassin, an activist based in Idlib, told The Associated Press by telephone that dozens of people had gathered to have their olives pressed when the warplanes struck, causing a large number of casualties.

It was not immediately clear why the olive press was targeted. "It was a massacre carried out by the regime," said al-Yassin.

"Now is the season to press oil," said al-Yassin, noting that many olive press factories are not functioning in the area because of the fighting in the region. A large number of people were at the one near the city of Idlib.

"Functioning olive press factories are packed with people these days," he said.

It will get worse before it gets better, as the more the Assad regime is against the wall, the more it is likely to strike out specifically against civilian targets. This is a pattern that has become well established over the last 20+ moths.

1722 GMT: Iraq. Another series of bombings... EA's John Horne reports:

At least 19 people were killed and 72 wounded in Baghdad, following three separate explosions outside Shi'a mosques, adding to todays violence and existing death toll (1629 GMT). CNN reports that:

The first exploded outside the Zahraa Shiite mosque in the Shulla neighborhood in northwestern Baghdad, killing eight people and wounding 21 others. The second exploded outside the Ali-Basha Shiite mosque in the Sbaa-Abkar district in northeastern Baghdad, killing six and wounding 32. And the third exploded outside the Sodani Shiite mosque in the Hurriya neighborhood in northwestern Baghdad, killing five and wounding 19.

Up to ten people are now reported dead in other attacks which took place across the north of the country, bringing todays death toll to 29.

1717 GMT: Egypt The Muslim Brotherhood continues to taunt the protesters, claiming that a march in support of the President -- which had been planned for today -- will attract "millions":

1713 GMT: Syria. A clarification of the update that we made at 1558. The videos show a convoy, led by Kataib al Mujahedeen and the AL Nusra Front, storming an artillery base near Mayadin, Deir Ez Zor, and then racing north after the battle. The videos actually show what occurred 3 days ago, when the major artillery base at Mayadin fell to the FSA. According to several social media sources, these two brigades were part of the assault, and the videos released today were designed to prove a point:

1710 GMT: Egypt An activist report on the size of the march from Shoubra to Tahrir square, adding "Numbers beyond most optimistic estimates; the future's bright":

1705 GMT: Saudi Arabia. Saudi Crown Prince Salman said today that 89-year-old King Abdullah is "well and in good health", more than 10 days after the monarch underwent back surgery.

There have been no photographs of Abdullah since the 11-hour operation on 17 November.

"Brothers, I convey to you greetings of...King Abdullah and I convey to you good news that he is well and in good health," Prince Salma told counterparts fellow Ministers of Defense from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council at a meeting in Riyadh, in comments aired on Saudi State television.

1645 GMT: Syria. Earlier, we received a report that another air defense base, outside the Assayedeh Zainab (spellings vary, of course) neighborhood in southern Damascus had fallen to the FSA.

Now, the CFDPC posts this report:

FSA managed to take full control of the air defense base 666 of regime forces in the Saideh Zainab area of Damascus.

You can see the dome on the map.

This is only one video, it shows a small number of fighters, and it does not show the whole base - but there is also no gunfire. The long-term significance of this victory likely depends on what weapons the FSA secures here, but the symbolic significance is clear - this is another substantial base, right on the outskirts of the capital. If Assad has focuses so much on Damascus, why is the FSA still able to capture bases this close to the center of his power?

1637 GMT: Israel. Two key advisors who reportedly held Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu back from war with Iran have been defeated in a Likud Party primary for candidates for the Parliamentary elections on 22 January.

Dan Meridor and Benny Begin, two of the eight Cabinet ministers in Netanyahu's inner council, lost to more hawkish members of the ruling party.

"They have been the most vocal against the military option, along with (Moshe) Yaalon and (Eli) Yishai," an official said.

1635 GMT: Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood continues to tweet. They claim that in todays protests, "Egytion national interests are out of the equation", and seek to separate them from the revolutionary impulse of January 2011, which President Morsi claims to be upholding.

1629 GMT: Iraq. Attacks in northern Iraq today left at least nine people dead.

In Kirkuk, three car bombs reportedly exploded simultaneously in two Kurdish residential areas in the city centre. AFP reports that one exploded "near a main Kurdish party headquarters". Five people died and at least 58 were wounded in the attacks.

Minutes after, two bombs exploded in a market in Hawija, a town west of Kirkuk, leaving two people dead and five wounded. A further bomb attack in Tuz Khormato injured five Iraqi soldiers.

In Diyala, a bystander died after a roadside bomb targeted a police patrol. In Mosul, five bystanders were injured when a car bomb exploded near a politicians house. Another five civilians were also wounded in a roadside bomb attack near an Iraqi military base in Taji, north of Baghdad.

The attacks came less than twenty-four hours after Iraqi and Kurdish officials reportedly "reached an agreement to defuse tension between the central government and the self-ruled autonomous region over disputed northern areas".

1626 GMT: Egypt A picture uploaded in the last 10 minutes of the march from Shubra, which is heading to Tahrir square. Former presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei is reportedly among those on the march.

1613 GMT: Egypt. Ahram Online reports that in Mansoura, "hundreds of protesters have blocked the major road heading to the governorate's headquarters, in protest at Morsi's constitutional declaration". Amongst the demonstrators chants was: "Nasser said it before, do not trust the Muslim Brotherhood."

1611 GMT: Egypt. As evening falls, a picture of Tahrir square lit up. Marches are still en route to join the protesters already there.

1608 GMT: Egypt EA's John Horne reports:

In a tweet likely to further antagonise the demonstrators out on the streets of Egypt today, the Muslim Brotherhood has claimed that there is "low protester turnout", showing a "lack of support".

1558 GMT: Syria. The conflict around Deir Ez Zor has, in many ways, been a slow, bloody, battle of attrition for months, as an outgunned FSA has slowly chipped away at a far better equipped Assad military, a military with significant tank, artillery, and air support. Despite this, the FSA has hung on, and has made slow advances, with the occasional setback.

However, the Assad front to the south of Deir Ez zor has collapsed in recent days, with the FSA capturing Al Bukamal, the nearby Hamdan air base, and several other large bases near AL Mayadin. Today, insurgents reportedly overran an artillery base near Mayadin, capturing a significant amount of arms. This video reportedly shows that battle:

Apparently after the battle, this video appears to be a large insurgent convoy, led by the Al Nusra Front (UPDATE: and the Kataib al Mujahedeen), tanks, 4x4s with machine guns, and other armored vehicles. The convoy appears to be racing north from Mayadin, towards Deir Ez Zor.

If confirmed, this means that the FSA is capable of overrunning bases in a matter of hours and moving out again before sunset. With large amounts of the regime tanks and air support largely withdrawn from Deir Ez Zor, how quickly can these new arms crush the remaining Assad resistance?

Both videos come from the same account, so this is not completely confirmed yet.

1552 GMT: Egypt Ahram Online's correspondent reports from Tahrir square that:

This is definitely the biggest protest I have seen in Tahrir Square since the 18 days [of January 2011] including the anti-Essam Sharaf Cabinet protests, the pro-sharia demonstrations, and those held on the anniversary of January 25.

Meanwhile, within the last hour, another march has set off, heading towards Tahrir:

1545 GMT: Egypt EA's John Horne reports:

The mother of Khaled Saeed released a video message to President Morsi ahead of todays protest. Khaled died in police custody in June 2010. A Facebook group, "We are all Khaled Said", was created to bring attention to his death and is often regarded as being a significant contributor to the mobilisation of activists in the January 2011 revolution which overthrew former President Mubarak.

In the video message, which has subtitles, Khaled's mother has some strong words for President Morsi and her fellow Egyptians (highlights below):

I told him that the first thing he needs to do is to attend to the martyrs' families, to get justice for them, to retry those who were judged unfairly, to treat the injured and release the detainees. I don't want anything else.

He replied that as soon as I leave the office he'll deal with all these matters. What did he do? Nothing. He released the prisoners from Muslim Brotherhood.


People ask why we won't give him a chance? What chance? ... He said: I will bring change in 100 days. And nothing changed.

The hungry are starving. The poor are poorer and the injured are being beaten in hospitals. They beat them up!

He calls us cockroaches. Who speaks like this? Who gave him his success? Whoo got him in power? In this position? The blood of our children and people who voted for him, but I refused to vote.


Is he only working for the Muslim Brotherhood? Then we have no President. If he's just the president of the Muslim Brotherhood, then the whole nation has no President.


And on Tuesday we will join the million-man march and after that what happens happens. You only live once. We have a God not a Pharaoh.

If you're concerned for your country go to the streets on Tuesday. If we don't and they take over . . . It can't happen. Then the whole revolution is over and we will go back to the days when you kept your head down and got slapped around and only ever said 'yes sir'.No. We'll keep on saying: No! No! No! Like Khaled said 'no'. We're carrying on what Khaled started.

1526 GMT: Egypt A picture showing the crowds in Tahrir square just over 30 minutes ago:

Chants reported include: "Down with constitutional declaration!", "Leave Leave!" and also, "Leave means walk away if you don't understand!"

1523 GMT: Egypt. As protests grow in Tahrir Square, a man has died nearby of tear gas inhalation amid the clashes with the police that are now in their second week.

Fathy Gharib, a member of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, is the fourth victim since President Morsi's decrees were issued.

1519 GMT: Syria. Now a really unconfirmed report - according to the LCC, an Assad jet fighter has been shot down over East Ghouta today. We have yet to see a second report, or video, but will keep our eyes peeling.

In the meantime, however, this video, reportedly taken over Darayya, is interesting - while the description says it shows a jet fighter dropping "bombs," what that fighter is likely dropping are flares - flares that can throw off heat seeking missiles that may have locked onto the aircraft. Typically, fighter pilots will not fire flares unless their warning systems indicate that their plane has been locked onto by a missile, or by ground radar. The reason - if the pilot fires all his flares, then he is vulnerable to an actual attack:

1514 GMT: Egypt. The Judges' Club has repeated their denunciation of the Presidential decrees and said they will continue escalating their strike.

The judges maintained that they are struggling to preserve the judicial branch's independence.

1508 GMT: Egypt. One of the latest marches towards Tahrir Square is that of thousands of people from Fatah Mosque, chanting “Be happy Mubarak, Morsi is following your footsteps."

Tahrir Square this afternoon:

1500 GMT: Syria. A disturbing report:

In fact, for more than an hour, tanks have reportedly been bombarding Tafas, in Daraa province (map). The video is currently live, so will autoplay until it is finished. Three hours ago the LCC posted video of tanks surrounding Tafas, and the LCC has also a graphic video of someone killed there today:

1447 GMT: Syria. Another blogger points us towards a third video reportedly showing the helicopter (updates below) - note that this is likely after the missile hit, as people are already cheering, and possibly links the two videos posted below together (missile hits, then there is smoke, then an explosion):

This should still be considered unconfirmed. For starters, people are looking through videos from other countries to see if these match different videos. However, all three line up, and correspond to fast eyewitness reports. We're cautiously optimistic that all three videos will be confirmed as showing the same helicopter.

This is significant, especially as we're chasing reports of two more bases that have fallen to the FSA today - more news when we get it.

1427 GMT: Syria. Looking at that video, it appears that the helicopter suffered several problems. First, it starts to smoke, then there is an explosion, and then it loses altitude and crashes. In another video, posted nearly simultaneously with this, and matching the LCC reports, the FSA reportedly hits a helicopter with a missile, very possibly a SAM:

This helicopter does not smoke, and does not seem to go down. It would appear that these are two different incidents. Either than, or soon after this the helicopter begins to smoke, and then there is an explosion.

The language sounds like Syrian Arabic, and the location appears the same. This does not appear to be the helicopter that was shot down in a video from Chechnya, as the terrain is wrong and the language sounds different.

The speed at which these videos were posted, and the speed at which the eyewitness reports that did NOT include the videos, adds credibility that at least one helicopter was shot down.

Looking at the original video, the videographer is already excited about a helicopter that is far away. It's possible that they already saw the missile hit the helicopter, and then started to film.

If confirmed this is significant - analysis to come.

1409 GMT: Syria. According to the LCC, the Free Syrian Army has shot down a helicopter near the Sheikh Suleiman helicopter base west of Aleppo (map). The base has been besieged for months, and has been on the brink of capture for days, with several media organizations reporting that it fell on November 20th because part of the base was briefly overrun. The base is the last regime outpost west of Aleppo city. We've also found this video which claims to show the downing of the helicopter. In fact, it clearly shows a helicopter being shot down, and the countryside roughly matches the area. Also, we're not sure ( the dialect is hard to understand), but we believe that one of the narrators does say the location:

1347 GMT: Saudi Arabia. There were more protests today in Riyadh, the capital and largest city in Saudi Arabia. According to Saudi blogger Ahmed al Omran, one of the demands of the protesters is the release of family members who have been detained. Political prisoners are a frequent source of discontent.

The protesters appear to have blocked off a major road in the capital, and the situation was somewhat tense. However, Bloomberg reports that police ultimately dispersed the crowd.

1325 GMT: Egypt. "The people want the fall of the regime," a chant we remember well from 2011, can be heard loud and clear in Tahrir Square today. Reuters has a livestream from Tahrir square, where protesters surround tents that have been erected at the center of the square.

Meanwhile, clashed continue in Simon Bolivar Square, not far from the US embassy. This video was reportedly taken at 11:20 AM local time (4 hours ago):

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

1150 GMT: Egypt. The protest in Tahrir Square against President Morsi's decrees is growing, with "Leave Morsi" and "Morsi you coward, you agent for the Americans" among the main chants.

Lawyers and journalists have begun marches to the square.

1140 GMT: Syria. Activist Tareq Abdelhaq, citing residents, has claimed that a regime airstrike killed at least 20 people and wounded 50 near Idlib cit6y today.

0740 GMT: Palestine. The remains of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat have been exhumed in Ramallah in the West Bank to investigate the cause of his death.

The body of Arafat, who died in 2004, was moved out of his mausoleum and taken to a mosque, where Palestinian doctors are collecting samples for handover to international teams from France, Russia, and Switzerland.

The Palestinian attorney general, with the help of French prosecutors, is also interviewing dozens of officials close to Arafat about the conditions in which he was living under before his death.

Ever since Arafat's death, claims have circulated that he was poisoned. The current investigation was sparked by a report from Swiss doctors that traces of polonium were found on the leader's clothes.

0700 GMT: Bahrain. Security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to scatter hundreds of youths who tried to march towards Pearl Roundabout, the centre of the February 2011 protests against the regime, after ceremonies for the religious occasion of Ashura.

Backed by military from the Gulf States, security forces cleared the Roundabout in March 2011, with the iconic monument in the centre of the roundabout later destroyed.

Witnesses said about 400 people marched from Diya village, near the capital Manama, amid demonstrations of thousands of people. At least one protester was arrested. as security forces used tear gas, stun grenades, and birdshot to disperse the crowd. Dozens were overcome by tear gas, according to witnesses.

The Ministry of Interior said it confronted a group of "troublemakers" who used firebombs and used stones and wooden barricades to block a main street.

0650 GMT: Palestine. The Guardian reports a significant shift in the diplomacy over Palestine's bid for Observer State recognition at the United Nations.

British officials have signalled that, if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas pledges not to pursue Israel for war crimes and to resume peace talks, London would change its previous position and support the bid.

Whitehall officials said the Palestinians were being asked to refrain from applying for membership of the International Criminal Court or the International Court of Justice, which could both be used to pursue war crimes charges or other legal claims against Israel.

Abbas is also being asked to commit to an immediate resumption of peace talks "without preconditions" with Israel. The third condition is that the General Assembly's resolution does not require the UN Security Council to follow suit.

France has already signalled that it will vote Yes on Thursday. Decisions by Germany and Spain are still awaited.

British Foreign Secretary Willian Hague discussed the issue on Monday with Abbas and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, offiicals said.

0640 GMT: Egypt. Speaking to CNN, the Muslim Brotherhood's Jihad Haddad defends President Morsi's decrees extending his powers:

0600 GMT: Gaza. Al Jazeera English reports on Gazans assessing the damage after the eight-day Israeli assault. The total economic cost of the damage is estimated at $1.2 billion, with damage to 8000 houses, 200 residential buildings, 43 government offices, and three mosques.

0540 GMT: Syria. Regime warplanes struck close to the border with Turkey on Monday, hitting a refugee camp under construction but missing an opposition military command centre.

The attack was the first on the Free Syrian Army base, led by Mustafa al-Sheikh since he crossed to Syria from Turkey two months ago.

There were no casualties from the raid --- set to be three to five bombs or rockets --- but hundreds of people fled towards and across the border.

The attack comes after Turkey announced plans for NATO Patriot missiles on the other side of the border, a move that Ankara insists is not for the purpose of establishing a no-fly zone in Syria. However, once these missiles are in place, a bombing raid such as Monday's would be very risky for Assad's air force.

The Local Coordination Committees report that 168 people were killed on Monday, including 90 in Damascus and its suburbs and 35 in Aleppo Province.

0530 GMT: Egypt. After a Monday meeting with his critics among the judiciary, President Morsi has put out the vague statement that his decrees last Thursday --- which expanded his powers and declared himself immune from judicial oversight --- were limited to "sovereignty-related issues."

One report suggested that a compromise would leave most of Morsi’s actions subject to review by the courts, but would prevent the Constitutent Assembly, drafting a new Constitution, from dissolution by the courts before it finishes its work.

Many judges and prosecutors are on strike, while a range of political parties and activists have called for protests. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood called off a demonstration in Cairo  "until futher notice" to "avoid clashes".

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