A rally in Al Taman'a in northwest Syria on Wednesday, "Baba Amr, we are with you until death"
2127 GMT: A new Tweet by the activist "Sami" who is inside Homs:
Earlier, Sami spoke to NPR's Andy Carvin, and said that electricity, and water, was cut for much of the city.
2111 GMT: Reuters, citing several sources, says that wounded French journalist Edith Bouvier has arrived in Lebanon. French President Sarkozy also told Reuters that he spoke to Bouvier, and she will be flown back on a government plane.
Sarkozy sparked a false rumor earlier this week that Bouvier was free, but this seems like a legitimate report.
2103 GMT: An explosive allegation from a major opposition group in Syria tonight:
Qunaitara: Jabatha: Regime forces stormed the town which lies on Israel's border with Syria. They are not permitted to enter this specific area without an Israeli permission or without the observation of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) . The regime's forces killed 7 citizens during their operation, among them 3 brothers of the Marweed family and one woman with her daughter, as well as a man from the Hariri family.
2017 GMT: Several Twitter accounts have said that there is gunfire in the Barzeh district of Damascus, however that news is not yet confirmed. Also, the LCCS reported heavy gunfire in the central Midan district of Damascus. LCCS also posted this video reportedly showing protests in Midan which was (perhaps) taken before the gunfire:
Russia and China joined other UN Security Council members on Thursday in expressing disappointment at Damascus' failure to allow UN humanitarian aid chief Valerie Amos to visit Syria and urged that she be allowed in immediately, France said.
The 15 nations on the council also said in a unanimously agreed statement that they "deplore" the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country, where an 11-month government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters has left over 7,500 civilians dead, according to the United Nations.
There have been rumors from some analysts that Russia and China would like a cease-fire in Syria, and may not object to a UNSC resolution calling for a cease-fire, if said resolution was carefully worded so that foreign intervention in the Syrian crisis remained off of the table. It is likely becoming increasingly clear to both Russia and China that there are already efforts, outside the UN, to intervene in Syria, or at least arm the opposition fighters, and the Assad regime may be running out of options if it is not willing to cooperate with the UN.
Of course, such a move is a double-edged sword, as the opposition forces would also be bound by any cease-fire agreement, and such an agreement would likely be a fragile one.
There are two videos showing Dr. al-Mohammad with the bodies of Colvin and Ochlik. He says they had to bury them in a garden in Bab Amr.— Ahmed Al Omran (@ahmed) March 1, 2012
The doctor said they had to bury them because the electricity was cut off and they could not keep the bodies in the refrigerator. #SYRIA— Ahmed Al Omran (@ahmed) March 1, 2012
1915 GMT: A strange video - the video claims to show a regime tank firing on the town of Tremseih, outside Hama. Most videos that are "leaked" from the Syrian military don't have a date, but this video has today's date, and it matches both the video we posted earlier (the countryside looks similar, see update 1720 GMT) and reports that we've heard from activists. Also interesting, there appear to be plain-clothed men on the back of the tank (perhaps Shabiha). It's not unusual to see Shabiha working with police or security forces, but it is interesting to see them working with a tank unit in the countryside:
Also, thanks to NPR's Ahmed al Omran for putting a second set of eyes on the video.
1844 GMT: According to the description of this video, police fired teargas at protests on the campus of Aleppo University:
The Feb. 20 attack in Amman appears to be linked to Musallam's critical writings about members of the Jordanian royal family. The day before she was stabbed, she reportedly wrote an article on her blog (link in Arabic) that criticized Prince Hassan bin Talal's recent commentary about dispersing demonstrators in an Amman square. The blogger said his comments were offensive.
For the last year, Jordan has witnessed pro-democracy protests, pushing King Abdullah II to fire his previous cabinet and introduce reforms.
CPJ calls on the Jordanian authorities to initiate a "serious investigation" into the stabbing. The probe conducted so far has born no fruit. Instead, some authorities appear to be trying to discredit Musallam.
1822 GMT: The BBC offers a behind-the-scenes video of how some of the videos escape from Syria, and how citizen journalists are plagued with not just rockets and arrests, but also by slow internet connections and lack of sufficient expertise. Sometimes, according to the activists, only 20 seconds of video may take hours to upload to Youtube so that organizations like EA Worldview can view them.
And we see hundreds of videos a day, most of which never make it to this website.
1810 GMT: This video was reportedly taken in the Karam al Zaytoun district of Homs, an area which has been hit hard by shelling and sniper fire today, according to activists. This man was reportedly shot in the streets, and the other activists are afraid to retrieve the body because of the gunfire:
A plane carrying American pro-democracy campaigners and other activists left Egypt on Thursday after a travel ban was lifted, an airport official said, a move that is likely to defuse the deepest row between Washington and Cairo in decades.
"They have left," the airport official told Reuters, without giving further details. A U.S. military plane had been sent to Egypt to take them, airport officials had said earlier. [Reuters]
1720 GMT: The LCCS is now reporting that 35 have been killed today in Syria, "among them 22 in Homs, 7 martyrs fell in the town of Jabatha in Qunaitara, 2 martyrs in Idlib,2 martyrs in Hama "Keranz and Traimseh,and one martyr in each of Dumair "Damascus Suburbs", and Jabal Zawyeh in Idlib."
LCCS also posts this video, reportedly showing tanks opening fire (possibly during prayer) in Tremseih, in Hama province:
Also, this video reportedly shows a column of smoke rising above Bab Tadmor, Homs:
1655 GMT: Turning to Bahrain, last night's events weren't all about teargas, death, and fireworks (see update at 1132 GMT). This video reportedly shows a candlelight vigil for the martyrs who have fallen:
And this video reportedly shows the people of Al Dair village carrying symbolic coffins, representing those who have been killed by security forces since last February:
1647 GMT: The AP has uploaded their collection of raw footage from Homs today, as the Free syrian Army has withdrawn because of a lack of ammunition and weapons and the worsening humanitarian situation:
1559 GMT: More news on the American NGO workers who are being tried in Egyptian court over allegations that their organizations interfered with the political process:
Egyptian officials say US has paid bail and American democracy workers are clear to leave - @AP— Breaking News (@BreakingNews) March 1, 2012
1541 GMT: The LCCS is reporting that Al Rastan has once again been shelled. This time, the building containing members of the Local Coordinating Committee was also repeatedly hit, though the LCCS reports that no one was hurt.
Zeitun is being attacked from three directions. There are four tanks stationed in the Al-Asseel and Al-Nazheen neighbourhoods. They are shooting at the high street where is the big market. Most of the shops were damaged in the shooting and the shooting is still going on. The market is covered in fire and smoke.
There are only a few members of Free Syrian Army in Zeitun, so the fighting has been less intense than other neighbourhoods. But we are besieged by two neighbourhoods loyal to the regime. They imposed a curfew on Zeitun and no food or medication is allowed in here.
They set up check points from where the Syrian army are shooting anything moving in the street.
1502 GMT: Activist "Sammy" Tweets from Homs:
The largest concern so far is that, despite the FSA pullout from the neighborhood, the Assad soldiers could launch reprisal attacks against the now-defenseless civilians, especially those who were injured.
1438 GMT: NPR's Ahmed al Omran translates a Tweet from a prominent activist associated with the Free Syrian Army in Baba Amr:
1424 GMT: The activist organization Syrian Tracker has released the names of 9,571 individual Syrians whom they say were killed between March 18, 2011 and February 27, 2012. The fully-interactive database lists the names, locations, and dates of those killed. The report is also available in Google Earth.
The picture below is the most useful graphic. According to the report, 42% of those killed were killed in Homs. While we don;t have a full translation of the place names, the "green" in Homs, the "purple" is Daraa, and the "dark blue" is Idlib:
Sadly, this number is already rising. According to the Local Coordinating Committees of Syria, an activist network operating inside the country, 26 have been killed already today, "among them 17 in Homs, 7 martyrs fell in the town of Jabatha in Qunaitara, and one martyr in each of Karnaz in Hama Suburbs, and Jabal Zawyeh in Idlib."
1354 GMT: The Free Syrian Army has withdrawn from the Baba Amr district of Homs, and pro-Assad forces now occupy the neighborhood. This statement was posted on a Facebook page associated with the Free Syrian Army:
We, the Baba Amr brigade, have decided to strategically withdraw for the sake of the civilians remaining inside the neighbourhood. The humanitarian situation is at its worst, as there is no food whatsoever, no medicines, no water and no electricity. There is no communication in the area thus making matters much worse. We are also lacking in enough arms to defend the civilians. The Assad army has destroyed most of the civilian homes up to now by use of missiles from multiple missile launchers, helicopters that have attacked Baba Amr from the skies and tank shelling using mortar shells type 120ml.
We are now calling on the International Red Cross to immediately enter and remove all civilians, we place full responsibility on them in that they must enter and save the people and hand them all aid necessary to keep them alive. The families have refused to leave, thus they must be provided with aid immediately. They have refused to leave their destroyed homes, homes that have been blown up during the barbaric attacks for the last month. The number of civilians refusing to leave is around 4000.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation is the chief concern for many in Baba Amr and beyond. The Guardian speaks with an activist, Sami, in Homs:
Water supplies have been shut down for the last three days. They have also cut down electricity from most of the city.
Baba Amr has been without electricity, food and water since the 5 February, but the Red Crescent has got some food in.
Outside Baba Amr, electricity has been working for about two hours each day. There has been heavy snow in Homs since yesterday. It is very cold and the lack of electricity and the lack of fuel means we are really facing a bad situation. There is no way to warm the houses.
James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas for getting us started today.
1150 GMT: Bahrain's King Hamad, addressing the Arab Youth Media, has complained that Western media have been unfair to Shi'ites by "making it appear that they were all against their homeland, while the truth is that very few may have been affected by calls of...theocracy".
In contrast to this fostering of sectarian conflict, Bahrain's press had "highlightedg the kingdom's landmark achievements as a result of its pioneering march of reform, democracy and comprehensive development".
1132 GMT: An EA correspondent from Bahrain points us to this video, "It might look like fireworks but it's not. Thi is how Ma'ameer village was raided around midnight with tear gas although no protesters were in the streets at that time. Most of the shooting was directed at the windows of houses":
Video from Aleker of the home of a pregnant mother and her 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, full of tear gas after a canister was fired through the window --- neighbours rescued the family:
Ghalioun said the plan was co-ordinated with the Free Syrian Army: "We wanted to organize those who are carrying arms today, The revolution started peacefully and kept up its peaceful nature for months, but the reality today is different and the SNC must shoulder its responsibilities in the face of this new reality."
Ghalioun denied that the step would foster civil war, "No, the uprising in Syria was from the start and it will remain foremost a popular peaceful movement. The task of the military council is to protect those peaceful protesters and civilians."
1109 GMT: Contrasting images in Homs --- regime soldiers moving through Baba Amr on Wednesday:
A snowman on a rooftop:
0705 GMT: Bahraini activists are claiming a new death from tear gas inhalation. Habib Kadhim Almulla, 60 years old, reportedly died on Wednesday morning after the gas was shot inside his home in Sehla, the 3rd time Almulla had been affected.
A march in Sitra last night, calling for freedom for political detainees:
0625 GMT: Wednesday in Syria was dominated by the news and signals --- often unclear, often confusing, always laden with tension --- of a fight for control of the Baba Amr section of Homs, now besieged for the 27th straight day.
In the end, there was no takeover of the devastated neighbourhood, its residents trapped, by regime forces. Both the most reliable report and the death toll --- put at "only" 16 in Homs by the Local Coordination Committees of Syria --- point to skirmishes, which we think were primarily in the northeast of Baba Amr.
Some activists inside and outside Homs were cheering last night that the elite 4th Division of the Syrian army, led by President Assad's brother Maher, had been repelled by the Free Syrian Army. The sobering analysis comes from EA's James Miller, however:
There are two key points that continue to be repeated by all the trusted sources EA has made contact with --- the FSA has been clashing with Assad soldiers...and the troops have not fully occupied the neighborhood...
The third detail that is in nearly every report: Assad's military is capable of taking Baba Amr. It is possible that they are holding out to lessen the media attention, or because they want to avoid heavy losses, but the entire city is surrounded by large numbers of pro-Assad forces, and tonight they are closer to the centre of Baba Amr than they have been since the siege started.