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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Regime Strikes Back

A 30-second video commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Hama massacre and calling for silent protests on Thursday

See also MENA Feature: Tribalism in the Arabian Peninsula --- It's A Family Affair
Egypt Feature: 70+ Die in Football Violence --- What Next?
Wednesday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: So They Had This Meeting in New York....

2203 GMT: That will possibly conclude our coverage for the night. Some of our writers may be making updates in a little while. With large protests today in Syria, Bahrain, and Egypt, tomorrow could prove another exciting day in the now year old Arab uprisings.

Stay tuned.

2200 GMT: Meanwhile, large evening protests are reported in Raqqa, Syria. This video is reportedly from one of those protests:

2150 GMT: The rocks in this picture used to be a fairly high wall on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, surrounding the Interior Ministry. This is all that is left, according to activists Tweeting from the street:

2139 GMT: Another video, this one supplied by the Telegraph, shows the situation in Cairo a little earlier:

An activist in Suez posts this picture, however, and notes that the scene on the streets there is similar to the scene in Cairo:

2136 GMT: The Telegraph's Patrick Galey reports from Cairo:

There are lots of injuries, mainly broken bones and tear gas, lots of driving backwards and forwards.The problem is that they can't get injured people out quickly enough. There's definitely thousands of people still around - about 3-4,000 in Mohammed Mahmoud Street and more elsewhere.

The wall on Mohammed Mahmoud Street, built to keep protesters away from the ministry after the last bout of violence in late November and early December, has been under attack. As I stood next to it the ground shook as another great boulder of concrete hit the deck. It's still coming down bit by bit.

Well, here is a video EA has found of the protesters taking down the wall. According to some, most of the wall has now been taken down:

2127 GMT: Activists in Homs, Syria, report that the government forces are "randomly" shelling the city. This video is taken in Baba Amr, Homs, on an apparently empty street, with no insurgent soldiers in sight (the suspense is killer, but watch it to the end, because the wait is worth it):

2119 GMT: Activist Nabeel Rajab, perhaps the chief architect of tonight's march in Manama, Bahrain, has shared this video, showing the rally before the police attacked it. Other videos posted earlier show the attack itself:

2115 GMT: Taking a quick look at a leaked copy of the new, edited, UN Security Council draft resolution on Syria, it's pretty obvious (based on the strike-outs) that the teeth are slowly being removed over the course of the week. More analysis coming soon, but the full document can be read here (it's short).

2110 GMT: Turning back to Egypt, Al Jazeera has several key updates, including a report from Egypt's health ministry that 388 people were wounded. They also post these two pictures, giving a sense of the chaos there:

2100 GMT: This video reportedly shows a gunfight between insurgent fighters and the Syrian regular army in Musaifera. Earlier, we posted video there showing gunfire and explosions, and we've received multiple reports of military campaign in the area, also affected nearby Jeezah (see map):

2050 GMT: The CFDPC have posted many videos from Madimyah, Damascus, beyond the two that we've already posted earlier and beyond the two we're posting below.

In the first video, a large amount of security forces can be seen on the street, opening fire:

In the second, an armored vehicle appears to be firing into the city:

Also, in many of the videos from the area that we've seen today, some of the men are clearly "Shabiha," and are not in an army or police uniform.

2035 GMT: An Bahraini account associated with the February 14 movement sends us this video, which they describe as, "Bahraini security forces fired shotgun toward human rights Nabeel Rajab."

We're not sure about a shotgun (might be a translation issue), but it is clearly visible that the police fire teargas at the camera, and the man standing next to the camera does appear to be Nabeel Rajab.

2016 GMT: Some of you may have noticed that we put in a quick line about an EA correspondent "hiding from police" in Manama. We're happy to report that he is now safe, so we can publish his account which is, unfortunately, limited in scope due to the circumstances:

There are 4 rallies that will start from 4 different direction until it all will meet in one point and start the official march.

Am standing next to Zainab Alkhwaja now near Manama church. Waiting for Nabeel [Rajab} call to start moving.

We started marching... All 4 rallies meet, Now the march starts.

About 2 thousand marching in Manama capital. We are entering the main roads now.

[Less than 2 minutes later] Shooting started. [3 minutes later] We refuse to leave and police are still shooting.

We are [retreating] now, too much shooting...Teargas and sound bombs

We are hiding now. Had to get in a building now hiding with s group of guys.

[Some time later] I got out of the house I was in, after walking for few minutes we got face to face with police shouted "STOP" And of course I didn't.

A couple of old ladies saw us and gave us shelter in their house. Am hiding again...

After an hour of going quiet, we quickly learned why:

I'm ok. I am moving from one house to another... we finally got in a house with two old ladies, and they refused to let us get out. One of them prepared dinner :)

Waiting for things to calm down so we can get out Police thugs still around.

[After another period of time, he writes] Left Manama half an hour ago All is good Despite the attack this is one of the biggest rallies that happened in Manama it's a success.

1932 GMT: Back from a quick break...

EA has found two videos, reportedly taken earlier in the Madimyah suburb of Damascus. The first shows security deploying to a neighborhood and opening fire. The second appears to show security beating civilians on the streets.

1815 GMT: Few people in the world are more familiar with teargas than the protesters in Egypt (though the Bahrainis probably have them beat in this regard). Protesters in Cairo are lighting fires in order to condition themselves to the smoke, a tactic which they have found lessons the effect of teargas.

While we're sorting through reports of clashes in Cairo, it would appear that, for right or wrong, the protesters in the street will have plenty of teargas to deal with.

1810 GMT: The Coalition of Free Damascenes for Peaceful Change reports that a funeral procession for martyr Mahmoud Fahed Khawandi has been fired upon in Kiswah, Damascus. They post these two videos of the event, both from earlier today:

1734 GMT: According to the LCCS, 7 people have been killed today by security forces, "Three martyrs in Homs, two martyrs in both Damascus suburbs, and Daraa."

As there have been protests across Syria in memory of the 30th anniversary, we post Al Jazeera's interview with journalist Robert Fisk, who was present in Hama during some of the attack:

1726 GMT: While EA's correspondent in Bahrain hides from police, we turn to Egypt...

Where things are not going much better. There are reports that tires have been set on fire, rocks thrown, rubber bullets fired - mass hysteria is slowly spreading. Ambulances can;t get through the crowds, motor cycles are harassing police... it's hard to sort all the reports, but it is clear that the situation in the streets of Cairo, near the Ministry of Interior in particular, has become extremely volatile.

1657 GMT: Another video from Manama, Bahrain - this one, though, shows the moments that the police fired teargas down this small road:

1641 GMT: The first video from Manama shows protesters hiding (though still chanting) while teargas fills the streets:

This was taken before the teargas started:

1631 GMT: Activist Maryam Abu Deeb reports that sound grenades have also been used in Manama, Bahrain. An EA correspondent reports that the firing is so intense that the crowds are retreating. He confirms the use of sound grenades and tear gas.

This picture was posted before the violence, showing women joining the march:

1627 GMT: Things are developing quickly in Bahrain. What started as four rallies has now become a single march, and there are already reports that the police opened fire.

This picture was posted by Zainab AlKhawaja, showing the moment that the four protests merged:

But just moments afterwards, an EA correspondent at the march reports that police opened fire:

"We refuse to leave and police are still shooting."

1609 GMT: In Bahrain, a large march is forming in Manama. This picture shows one group of protesters forming, but there are many groups that will eventually meet in a single location.

The march is being led by several high-profile human rights activists within the Bahraini opposition, including Nabeel Rajab and Zainab AlKhawaja.

According to an EA correspondent, the march has started.

1526 GMT: More evidence of a military campaign in Daraa Province - this dramatic video was reportedly taken today in Musaifera, very close to Jeezah (see last update, and this map of the area):

1518 GMT: Just because there has been a relatively low death toll in Syria so far today does not mean that it has been quiet, or that there are not significant developments. As I noted earlier, today will likely be more important for its protests than its gunfights, but those gunfights continue. The Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre reports:

DARAA (02/02/2012): The video shows Jeezah, the hometown of the teenaged martyrs Hamza al-Khattib and Thamer al-Sharai, which has come under attack from the regime's forces today. As with many other parts of Syria, the crackdown seems to have escalated in Daraa province in recent days - with more raids, more arrests and more shelling. Elsewhere, military reinforcements have been heading to Rastan and Hama.

Beyond the report from Jeezah, the LCCS also reports that all communications have been cut in Jabel al Zawiyah.

And, of course, there is still Homs:

Heavy gunfire using light and heavy machine guns is reported in al-Aabasye neighborhood. Snipers are stationed on rooftops making it impossible for civilians to move around. All movements have come to a complete stop

1455 GMT: NPR's Ahmed al Omran shares this video, a large protest in Hama earlier today:

1447 GMT: The situation on the streets of Cairo is tense. A large march is moving down Talaat Harb Street, towards the Interior Ministry, to protest SCAF's inability to protect the citizens of the country.

There are also reports of thousands protesting outside the Al-Ahly club, and elsewhere in Cairo.

The US State Department has warned US citizens to keep off of the streets.

1438 GMT: A few hundred students in Darayya, Damascus, protest against the regime and in solidarity with the people of Hama:

1410 GMT: Looking to Damascus, there have been large protests in Midan. According to the LCCS, a large student protest marched from the Zein Alabdin School to Freedom (Tahrir) Square. We have posted a map of the route where we believe that protesters marched, though the exact locations of the march are unconfirmed.

There were also protests starting from the Abdel Qader Moubarak Secondary School for Girls.

Teargas was reported in the Midan district, a new protest reportedly started at the Hassan Bin Thabet School, and more teargas was fired at that protest.

So far there is a theme - the protests are large and daring, and the security forces have been hesitant to open fire, though teargas has been used and large amounts of security are reported on the streets in many cities, especially Damascus and Hama.

So far, the Syrian security forces seem very cautious so as to not brand today as yet another massacre.

1339 GMT: So far, the death toll in Syria appears to be surprisingly low. According to the LCCS:

Three people have been martyred thus far by the regime's security forces and army: two in the Damascus Suburbs (Douma and Saqba) and one in Homs.

The key today may not be tracking the movements of the military and the Free Syrian Army, but rather following the protest marches, as the country reflects on the 30th anniversary of the Hama Massacre.

1332 GMT: Turning to Syria, today is the 30th anniversary of the Hama massacre, an event where tens of thousands of citizens were killed by Bashar al Assad's father, Hafez. According to the latest from Al Jazeera, the government is prepared for the anniversary:

Reuters reports that troops have closed public squares in Hama after residents poured red paint symbolising blood on the ground to mark the 30th anniversary of the massacre late President Hafez al-Assad ordered during an uprising against his rule.

1320 GMT: James Miller takes the live coverage from Scott Lucas. We'll get caught up, and we'll start with Egypt.

After last night's violence at a football match, the governor of Port Said, Major-General Mohamed Abdullah, has resigned, saying that he is "politically responsible" for the incident, and Egypt's Prime Minister has accepted the resignation.

This is only the government's first response to the crisis:

The goverment has also suspended the heads of security and police investigations. The two men's conduct in the build up to Wednesday night's league match between Port Said side Masry and Cairo giants Ahly will be investigated.

El-Ganzouri added that all Egyptian Football Association (EFA) board members will be suspended and an investigation opened into why they decided to go ahead with the match in light of the likelihood of violence around it.

1100 GMT: The 6 April Youth Movement has released a statement blaming the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for the Port Said football clashes, in which at least 74 people died: “What happened yesterday does not have an explanation, except as part of a plan by the military council and the interior ministry to push the country into chaos and force us to embrace military rule.”

The movement asked, “Is it possible that they succeeded in securing parliamentary elections across nine different governorates but were incapable of securing a football match where clashes were possible?”

The Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood has blamed the violence on members of the former Mubarak regime and on foreign elements:

The FJP believes that what happened in Port Said cannot be at all separated from the overall scene emerging since a few days ago, with organized robberies of a number of banks, post offices and security vehicles, as well as a proliferation of cases of robbery and banditry. These acts have indeed emerged clearly after the completion of parliamentary elections, which was a major shift for the Egyptian revolution. This points to treacherous hands which are no longer hidden, intent on forcing Egypt into chaos and destruction.

The party emphasizes that this tragedy witnessed at the Port Said Stadium and almost repeated in the Cairo Stadium during the Zamalek and Ismaili match, and before them the contrived confrontation and violence near the People's Assembly building on Tuesday, are certainly aimed at derailing the process of peaceful democratic transition of power.

These are, evidently, the handiwork of domestic parties and dubious forces that still have strong ties with the former regime, which manages the sabotage scheme from the cells of Tora prison, taking advantage of a number of businessmen who were the pillars of the failed system and still enjoy freedom, despite the many crimes of corruption they are involved in, using their money and a number of print and broadcast media they own. Moreover, there are, no doubt, foreign fingers that failed to take control of the Egyptian revolution, but never gave up attempts to distort, distract and disrupt the march of the revolution. This is why we call upon the Egyptian people, with all their leanings, hues and inclinations, to be vigilant, to thwart these plots, and to expose these groups and movements that want to drag Egypt into an abyss of organized chaos so as to prevent this homeland from enjoying stability, security, development and prosperity.

One person caught up in the events, "Heemalization", has posted a detailed account, concluding:

What happened today is either planned or has been facilitated, there is no other scenario it was a lot more than just football troubles that all the Ultras and football fans know about. What I saw today was worse than what I saw in Mohammed Mahmoud, all that happened was above anyone’s imagination.

0558 GMT: This video was reportedly taken in Safsafa, Homs, on Wednesday. Yesterday, we posted video that showed Syrian soldiers from an armored division defecting to the opposition in the town.

0530 GMT: Once again, the story in Syria is beyond the numbers.

The opposition Local Coordinating Committees reported 70 people died in Wednesday's clashes, including 14 insurgents in the Free Syrian Army, two women, and two children. Of the casualties, 36 died in the Damascus suburb Wadi Barada, 14 in Homs, eight in Daraa, five in other Damascus suburbs, three in Idlib, and one each in Damascus, Hama, and Qamishli.

Linking those losses was the narrative of a regime striking back after its loss of territory over the last two weeks. The crackdown was especially notable in Idlib in the northwest and around Damascus. For example, the focus on the Wadi Barada valley (see map for Wednesday's Live Coverage) is probably to cut the insurgent supply chain between Zabadani, taken by the opposition last week, and the Damascus suburbs.

The regime's offensive is not only to take back control but also to damage insurgent morale; however, despite the punishing attacks yesterday, success remains to be seen. The advance in Idlib, in particular, may be only temporary --- the opposition will find it easier to refresh forces there, near the Turkish border, than it will close to the capital. 

And even as President Assad's men were clawing back land, reports indicated they were being pushed back in sections of Homs, Syria's third-largest city. 

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