Two videos of Zainab Alkhawaja just before she was arrested on Sunday, trying to reach Pearl Roundabout --- the first posted by the pro-regime Manama Press, the second by activists
2221 GMT: For several hours, activists have been reporting a security operation against the town of Taseel, in Daraa province, Syria. LCCS confirms that report, and also posts these details about the condition on the ground there.
Security forces have launched a security operation in the town since last Wednesday up until today. They launched a detention campaign where more than 50 men got arrested; one of them was Dr. Arshad Al-Qaddah. Also, a house-to-house raiding campaign of all the homes, public places in the town was launched. The pharmacies, clinics, commercial shops and private properties were subotaged amid sporadic gunfire and extensive deployment of fully-equipped security members and thugs (Shabeha). Snipers were deployed on the rooftops all around the town.
2210 GMT: Despite the daily bombardment of Homs, Syria, there have been almost nightly rallies such as these in the Qusour district, just a few blocks from some of the areas that have been intensely shelled in recent weeks:
2206 GMT: This video was edited together by an activist group in Bahrain, however it appears to exclusively show video taken today, and offers a good overview of today's events:
2155 GMT: Another important video from Bahrain. The first part of the video shows the protesters are trying to move to the Pearl Roundabout but are blocked by the police near the Budaya highway, and then the police open fire with teargas. After the teargas is fired, protesters throw rocks, but it is hard to make out whether the teargas was warranted.
In the second half of the video, the police begin to throw rocks back at the protesters. After several minutes of this, one of the youth throws a molotov cocktail at the police. It does not break. However, then the police officer appears to pick up the molotov and prepare to throw it back, before he is stopped by his colleagues.
Again, western law enforcement officers would take issue with the way the Bahraini police reacted to this crisis. The video below shows how their poor training endangers both protesters and the police. With multiple western police chiefs working with the Bahraini police force, it is hard to see how that training has trickled down to the front lines of this crisis:
2133 GMT: An EA Correspondent has uploaded this video, showing the amount of teargas in Sitra tonight. The video has this description:
While people were chanting Allah Akbar "God is the greatest" peacefully on the roof of their houses Alkhalifa mercenaries came and started teargasing the houses and neighborhoods with an extensive forces.
Driving through tear gas clouds:
2112 GMT: Even at this late hour, the death toll in Syria is climbing. The LCCS now reports that 30 people have been killed today by security forces, "including 4 children and one defected soldier, 11 of the martyrs fell in Homs, 9 in Idlib, 4 in Damascus, three in Daraa, 2 in Aleppo and one in Salamiyeh in Hama."
While the deathtoll in Homs is relatively low (compared to recent days), the number of deaths reported elsewhere is relatively high. Also, the reports of violence, particularly in Homs, are still coming in, so this number could, sadly, rise even higher.
2055 GMT: The death toll in Syria has been relatively low (though, in recent weeks, any death toll less than 50 seems low), but it is still extremely dangerous to protest in Syria. Nowhere is it more dangerous to protest than in the Kafer Souseh district of Damascus, and yet multiple sources report that this video was taken there, at a large demonstration in the Jammale neighborhood.
Earlier, EA Editor Scott Lucas found this video which, according to the sign held by the activist and the description on the video, was taken earlier in Halfaya, Hama:
2048 GMT: Two EA correspondents report from Bahrain. The first reports that the village of Sanabis is covered in tear gas, and the night air is filled with the sounds of police sirens and chants of "Allahu Akbar."
Another EA correspondent has this report:
"As a punishment for trying to get to Martyrs Square (aka the Pearl Roundabout, or the "Gulf Cooperation Council Roundabout") most of Bahrain villages are under continues tear-gas attacks now. Even if there are no protests, mercenaries raid villages and shoot teargas in front of or inside houses.
"I had to drive through so many clouds of tear-gas until I got back home, while the roads look like warzones with [large amounts of spent ammunition] remaining."
Washington is blocking $53 million in arms sales to Bahrain because of unfulfilled security sector reforms as clashes between riot police and anti-government protesters increase on the eve of the first anniversary of the uprising.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the Obama administration is concerned about security forces breaking up demonstrators trying to reach Manama’s Pearl Roundabout – the symbolic center of last year’s protests.
“We want to see demonstrators demonstrate peacefully,” she says. “We want to see security forces exercise restraint and operate within the rule of law and international judicial standards.
1913 GMT: The LCCS now reports that 23 have died in Syria, "including two children and a defected soldier. Nine (9) martyrs in Idlib, Four (4) martyrs in Damascus suburbs, three (6) martyrs in Homs, two (2) martyrs in each of Daraa and Aleppo."
1844 GMT: The strangest news of the day concerns the "Iranian soldiers/engineers in Syria" controversy...
The story started more than two weeks ago, when a video surfaced claiming that the al-Farouk brigade of the Free Syrian Army had captured Iranian soldiers in Homs. Quickly, it became obvious that these men matched the description of 5 engineers and their support staff that the Iranian media said had gone missing in December.
In an interview with Press TV on Monday, Iran’s Consul in Ankara Mohammad-Reza Kharrazi said the seven Iranians, who were abducted while working on a power plant project in the Syrian city of Homs in December and were reportedly released last week, are not in Turkey.
Kharrazi said the Iranian Embassy in Turkey has no information about the whereabouts of the seven Iranians.
RT @sorr0w: Even my car got hit with a teargas canister shot, I barely could open my eyes while driving. #Babrain #luluReturn
"Small update : We are OK here. I am exhausted, but the women have gone out [to protest]."
An update on the reports of fires burning in Sanabis. While some activists are reporting that police have lit the fire, EA's John Horne notes that we're not sure that is explicitly true. However, firing teargas, incendiary grenades, or even flash grenades (sound grenades) in enclosed spaces, as has been the practice of police in Sanabis, in particular, in the past, could easily light trees or homes on fire.
1809 GMT: The Local Coordinating Committees of Syria have been reporting a sustained attack on the city of Jabal al Zawiyah, in Idlib province. At least 4 people have been killed by security forces there, according to the reports.
1802 GMT: The following is an account from an EA source in Sanabis. While the specific details cannot be confirmed, other reports from Sanabis suggest that there are still clashes between protesters and police:
"I got badly attacked today on Budiyda Road with tear gas. A young men saved my life. We were all peaceful - I don't know why they attacked us to suppress the people. We were surrounded. I'm in Sanabis now in a safe house. Police are everywhere, [its] not safe for me to go out.
"Most of sanabis is in darkness. [Police] have burnt a house here!! Tear gas was shot into the house [and led to the fire].
"The woman I'm staying with is the bravest woman I have ever met. Today she stood in front of police, in [a cloud of] tear gas, [giving the] victory sign and would not move!
"All we can hear is shooting outside. What kind of life is this for these people.
"Tear gas now in my house. A nine year old just gave me 7-up for my face!! Tear gas all outside now seeping in through vents. All doors closed with wet towels at doors."
1753 GMT: Pictures like this characterize the scene in Bahrain at nightfall. The activist who shared this picture says that these fires are the results of police action in Sanabis, but the Ministry of Interior has accused "rioters of spreading chaos.
So far, the only violent actions we've been able to document today appear to have been caused by the police.
1715 GMT: Bahrain's Chief of Public Security, Major-General Tariq Al Hassan, has claimed that police responded to "chaotic acts of rioting by a large number of participants from the [opposition] Al Wefaq march on Budaiya Road".
Hassan said that when police arrived, the demonstration turned violent, with people hurling Molotov cocktails and rocks and burning private property. He said police, after warning the "rioters" several times, "then used legal procedures to disperse the crowd and restore civil order".
Hassan held the organisers of the march responsible for the violence and said legal procedures would be taken against them.
1650 GMT: An EA correspondent in Bahrain sends us this video, reportedly showing a protester who has suffered a head wound at today's protest:
EA Correspondent John Horne adds this context:
"I met a guy on Saturday who'd lost an eye from a tear gas canister.
Also, he was talking to somebody who says he keeps advising the young lads out there street fighting to always duck when they hear the shot, but they perpetually forget in their bravado, hence the increasing head wounds.
John adds that the man was not advocating that the men fight with police, but was advising them to avoid getting injured, because the danger is real.
1630 GMT: An EA Correspondent reports from Bahrain:
Video Budayah highway, large number of ammunition remaining [on the ground] after [the police] attacked marchers - 5:20 PM
The moment marchers started running to martyrs square and the shooting that followed
1614 GMT: Another video from Bahrain - this gives a sense of the sheer size of the crowds that were marching towards the Pearl Roundabout today:
1608 GMT: Marc Own Jones shares two more videos from Bahrain. The first was reportedly taken today near the now-infamous overpass, as protesters try to reach the Pearl Roundabout, despite the tear gas being shot from above.
This video is dated yesterday. It appears to show several women being confronted by police. The police, who appear to threaten the women with beating when they protest against the regime, eventually throw a sound grenade and close range at the women. Is this the restraint that we've been hearing about?
1555 GMT: The Local Coordinating Committees of Syria report that 11 people have been killed by security forces so far today, "including two children and a defected soldier. Four (4) martyrs in Damascus suburbs, three (3) martyrs in Homs, two (2) martyrs in Aleppo, and a martyr in each of Idlib and Daraa."
However, the LCCS also reported even more recently that 2 children have been killed in Al Rastan, Homs, and a large amount of civilians were wounded. We're not sure if these are the "two children" from the report above, or they are additional children. Earlier, the LCCS posted that 2 children were killed in Madaya, so we believe that this report is in addition to the last.
1542 GMT: An EA source in the town of Binnish, in Idlib province, has given us this report:
"We went yesterday to Taftanaz. We saw a family of a woman who was killed last Monday in a shooting. She was just collecting potatoes, and was shot from the base nearby"
According to EA's source, both Binnish and Taftanaz are free, but south of Taftanaz there is an airforce base (which is clearly visible on Google Maps), and two girls were killed while picking potatoes in a field 500 meters from the base:
"Unud al Sheikh, she was 16 years old and Dlal Rahal, she was 17. Three other persons were injured in the shooting. It happened around one oclock, last Monday (February 6). They were shot by PK, a Russian made weapon."
1520 GMT: The LCCS is reporting that the town of Talbiseh, Homs, is under attack again today. Several shells have reportedly fallen this hour, and heavy machine-gun fire is reported. Al Rastan, just to the north, was reportedly attacked last night, a town that has been hard hit over recent weeks, but a town that maintains a strong presence of Free Syrian Army fighters. The Guardian shares this report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attempt by regime forces to storm Rastan in the restive central province of Homs left at least three soldiers dead. Rastan has been held by the rebels since late January.
The town was taken by defectors twice in the past only to be retaken by Syrian troops. It is the hometown of former Defense Minister Mustapha Tlass, who held the post for more than three decades, mostly under Assad's father and predecessor, the late Hafez Assad.
Some pushback on The Guardian's report, however - the attack al Rastan is hardly the "latest stage in a conflict that looks to be edging ever closer to civil war," as the AP assesses. In fact, the battle north of Homs has been ongoing since before what is already being called the "Homs Massacre," though it has intensified in recent days.
Frankly, In and around Homs, and Zabadani (near Damascus), the conflict has looked like a "civil war" for quite some time.
1504 GMT: Photographs from today's protest in Bahrain show the scale of tear gas unleashed on protesters. Given the peaceful nature of the protest, questions will likely be asked whether this represents a "reasonable reaction to provocation" by the Bahraini security forces, or whether John Yates needs to give the police yet more training.
The Bahrain Ministry of Interior tweets about todays protest:
Alwefaq march began peacefully. participants now hurling Molotov cocktails & rocks at police
Vandals who particiapted in Alwefaq march now are rioting on Budaiya Rd, damaging private property
The MOI also reports that security forces heading to Sanabis to deal with "major fire burns in house ... due to Molotov cocktails".
1453 GMT: Several sources are reporting that Syrian security forces are conducting attacks, arresting and shooting in the Damascus towns of Zabadani and Madaya, 20 miles north of the capital. The LCCS is also reporting that two children have been killed within the hour in the town of Madaya.
1434 GMT: More from Bahrain - According to Sitra Media protesters are right now on the main highway attempting get to to Pearl Roundabout today. This video shows a large group of young protesters breaking off from the highway and running across land. The scene is chaotic as the cameraman runs with them. Shots can be heard at the end of the video.
1425 GMT: James Miller takes the live coverage. Thank you Scott Lucas and John Horne for taking us through the morning.
Today's headline looks like it may belong to Bahrain.
Al Jazeera reports the scene just earlier this hour:
A few more details on today's rally: It started as a "licensed" (government-approved) march along Budaiya Highway, a major road which runs west of the capital.
But a large group of demonstrators - perhaps as many as 10,000, according to a witness on the ground - broke away and started marching back towards Pearl Roundabout in Manama. They were tear-gassed heavily, and many of them fled.
Said Yousif al-Muhafdah, an activist with the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, tweeted this photo of protesters running from tear gas:
45 minutes ago, Said Yousid al-Muhafdah posted this video, and things looked bad:
However, an EA Correspondent shares this report, accompanied by al-Muhafdah's latest video, posted only minutes ago:
"Mercenaries brutally attacking the protesters and shooting from above the flyover [the overpass] NOW !"
1210 GMT: Bahrain. There are growing concerns from all sides about the rising violence in the country. Yesterday, Reuters reports, al-Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman criticised the increasing use by some protesters of Molotov cocktails and other weapons:
The repression has led some to respond and throw petrol bombs in the last month, and here I direct a call... that we must continue using peaceful methods," Sheikh Ali Salman told a crowd of several thousand people outside Manama late on Sunday.
Believe me, our case is not throwing petrol bombs... We should not be dragged through that door ... We should stick to our right to protest anywhere and any time. Don't be dragged into violent action.
Ali Salman's words counter the claims by many regime-supporters that al-Wefaq is encouraging the violent overthrow of the government as part of a Iranian sponsored plot. His call for peaceful means of protest, however, may not reach the ears of all in the February 14 Youth Coalition. Many, as supporters of the secular Haq Movement or other parties, do not feel represented by al-Wefaq, which remains the only legal opposition party in Bahrain. Moreover, there is growing cynicism amongst some youth protesters towards al-Wefaq's perceived closeness to those in power both inside and outside Bahrain.
Interestingly, despite the several examples of excessive police brutality yesterday, including one young protester in Mameer being thrown into a police car then repeatedly beaten and allegations that police in Demistan village threw a young man off a first floor roof, Reuters chose to illustrate its article with a picture of an injured policeman.
0610 GMT: After more than a week of a regime assault in which hundreds died, the headline on Syria on Sunday was the Arab League's announcement that it will ask the United Nations to form a joint peacekeeping force and appoint a special Arab envoy.
The move came after a meeting in Cairo of the foreign ministers of the League's nations. They also decided to halt all diplomatic interaction with representatives of the Syrian government, though they did not demand the expulsion of Syrian ambassadors from member states.
0525 GMT: In an interview before Sunday's events, Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab explains why he and his family were marching to Pearl Roundabout.
0520 GMT: After the latest clashes in Bahrain, including the arrest of prominent activists, we start this morning with a separate feature, "Meet 'Yates of the Yard;, The Policeman Supervising 'Reform'."
In an article which borders on the surreal at points, Yates explains, “The concept of reasonable reaction to provocation has been reinforced."