Associated Press raw footage of insurgents battling to retain control of Idlib in Syria
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Turkey Live Coverage (14 March): A Growing Role Over Syria br>
Tuesday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Crushing the Opposition?
2024 GMT: We've been discussing a video on Twitter with several prominent activists that claims to show soldiers from the Free Syrian Army using a guided missile to destroy a T-72 tank in a convoy near Qalaat al Madiq, a besieged city in Hama province.
We'd note that the town of Qalaat al Madiq has been shelled by tanks for several days, and there are reports that a historic castle in the city has partially collapsed. While there are also rumors of FSA activity there, we have not been able to verify reports that the Free Syrian Army has successfully destroyed any tanks belonging to the regime.
"Due the developments in Syria, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has shut down its embassy in Damascus and withdrawn all its diplomats and staff there," said the statement.
2008 GMT: There are reports that the shelling of the Khalidiya district of Homs continued into the night. We do not know if the shelling is still ongoing, but the Ugarit News Network posts this video, reportedly showing a home burning tonight after it was hit by a shell:
1950 GMT: Several prominent activists report that there has been another explosion, perhaps a car bomb, in the Midan district of Damascus. The Coalition of Free Damascenes for Peaceful Change reports:
Another activist perhaps provides some context:
A Midan activists I got in touch with suggested the car bomb may have been a message to Baloon Restaurant which joins strikes often. #Syria— Shakeeb Al-Jabri (@LeShaque) March 14, 2012
1920 GMT: There were two real "gems" inside Syrian President Assad's personal emails (see update at 1900 and 1853 GMT). The first - an exposé on what the Assad's were shopping for online, and how they managed to shop online despite sanctions (I'll give you a hint, they were spending 10s of thousands of dollars on luxuries when a lot of people were dying in the streets). The second - even according to Assad's own words, the reforms that his government proposed were "rubbish."
1910 GMT: A video, reportedly taken perhaps less than two hours ago, at sundown, in Idlib, shows smoke rising as the sounds of gunfire and explosions can be heard:
1900 GMT: One of those hacked emails, sent by Khaled Al Ahmad, who appears to be the governor of Idlib, on 13 November 2011 at 03:47:00 GMT suggests that Assad should use "all possible means" to restore order in Idlib and Hama:
My opinion with all modesty is that we should tighten the security grip and to start an operation to restore state power and authority in Idlib and Hama countryside using all possible means. Those who have come to conclusions based on the Arab League meetings only wanted to give impetus to the street in these areas and this is the utmost limit of their capabilities.
And if the saboteurs do not sense the state power, the Arab plan will lead to a very bad result.
I have met [XXXXXXXXXXXX] before the departure to Homs and it was positive and we agreed on a work plan to deal with the Allawi street. I will be back to Damascus within 48 hrs to visit [XXXXXXXXXXXX] to brief him on the net shield.
With all love and respect
Khaled (attached a picture for the net shield)
1853 GMT: According to The Guardian, the Syrian opposition hacked President Bashar al Assad's personal email, as well as that of his wife, and followed, in real time, the emails that were sent over the course of several months.
According to the report, the emails contained messages that suggested that Assad was building a personal advisory group that bypassed traditional power structures, and he also took advice from Iran on how to best handle the crisis.
The emails also appear to show that:
• Assad established a network of trusted aides who reported directly to him through his "private" email account – bypassing both his powerful clan and the country's security apparatus.
• Assad made light of reforms he had promised in an attempt to defuse the crisis, referring to "rubbish laws of parties, elections, media".
• A daughter of the emir of Qatar, Hamid bin Khalifa al-Thani, this year advised Asma al-Assad and her husband to leave Syria and suggested that Doha may offer them exile.
• Assad sidestepped extensive US sanctions against him by using a third party with a US address to make purchases of music and apps from Apple's iTunes.
• A Dubai-based company, al-Shahba, with a registered office in London is used as a key conduit for Syrian government business and private purchases by the Syrian first lady.
Perhaps the most interesting piece of news - the opposition had access to these emails for months, and their access only stopped on February 7th when the hacking group "Anonymous" hacked the Assad emails. Interestingly, it appears that if Anonymous did not hack the Assad emails, the opposition would have continued to have access to Assad's emails. The opposition also says that they were able to tip off several individuals in Damascus who may have been arrested if they did not have this access.
1813 GMT: It is not a quiet night in Hama. There are reports of gunfire lasting deep into the night, and this video reportedly shows gunfire on the Aleppo highway:
1807 GMT: Back from a research break...
This video is reportedly a live-stream showing a night protest in Deir Ez Zor, Syria:
1616 GMT: Activist "Sami" reports from Homs:
1559 GMT: The entire ring around Homs is reportedly the cite of another full-scale military campaign today. The LCCS reports that in Al Qusayr, to the south of Homs, at least four people have been killed. There are also reports of violence in Al Rastan, and the Khalidiya district of Homs, still controlled by the Free Syrian Army, is reportedly under attack.
Several areas of Daraa province have also reportedly been raided, and there are reports of a battle between the Free Syrian Army and Assad forces in the important suburb of Nawa.
There are also reports of deaths, injuries, and regime raids in Hama province, across Idlib, and even in Hasaka.
Turning to Aleppo, this video was reportedly taken at the sit-in protest in the Justice Palace. All these men are lawyers, protesting against the regime:
One of the protesting lawyers delivered a statement on behalf of the group in the Judicial Palace who called themselves the Free Lawyers. Their statement denounced the continued "daily campaign of random arrests, forced disappearances, and killing that is being practiced against the people of Syria."
... Students at Aleppo University staged protests demanding the right to live freely and pledging solidarity with other cities currently under attack by the Syrian Arab Army. The shabbiha responded by assaulting the students and breaking up the protests.
1505 GMT: The claim of the day - For several days, we've been tracking reports that a group of FSA soldiers destroyed a fighter jet in Idlib while it was on the ground. We treated these reports as interesting rumors. After all, recently a report about a downed helicopter turned out to be fake.
However, the information was coming from sources whom we've been watching for quite some time.
Today, an activist who has worked with EA in the past finds this video, posted by a typically reliable account. A little more than three minutes in, these soldiers appear to hit the jet, likely severely damaging it. The weapon could be a Kornet anti-tank missile. The video is only dated as being taken in March of this year, and was uploaded today:
1455 GMT: This video, posted by a reliable activist news network, purports to show students running from gunfire on the campus of Aleppo University. It matches reports that we've heard from other sources today:
1409 GMT: So far, the news inside Syria has three headlines today: raids in Daraa, large protests in Aleppo, and the renewed shelling of the Khalidiya district just north of the center of Homs.
In Daraa, the city has been attacked by security forces, and tanks have rolled through the streets. There are rumors of widespread arrests, and unconfirmed reports that more than a dozen have been killed by security forces.
An eyewitness speaking to the New York Times says that the raids were the heaviest they have been since the start of this conflict one year ago:
Anwar Fares said: "It is the most violent military raid on Dera'a since April 25. It seems they want to have a situation similar to Idlib and Homs."
Tanks were filmed manoeuvring near the al-Balad district this morning amid reports of heavy gunfire.
In Aleppo, the news has two epicenters. The first, large scale protests on the campus of Aleppo University. The LCCS, which has posted the video below, also reports that some of the protests were fired upon by security forces, and many students have been arrested. Casualties are reported, but the extent of them remains unknown.
The university in Syria's second largest city has often been host to large protests, but since last week they have been held every day. Also, the scale of these protests, and the magnitude of the crackdown, has increased dramatically. Even as recently as December, Aleppo was a fairly restive place, with isolated protests, but in the last month and a half it has now become host to regular violence and daily protests. The protests are growing, as are the amount of areas hosting the protests.
The other headline in Aleppo, however, is that a sit-in protest of lawyers in the Justice Palace of Aleppo has turned into a much larger demonstration. These men joining these sit-ins are respected members of society, and are not part of the youth movement that is rising on the campuses and in the neighborhoods of Assad's most loyal city.
1402 GMT: The Associated Press has published a collection of videos from yesterday's fall of Idlib, all apparently taken from the perspective of rebel fighters or civilians.
James Miller takes over for Scott Lucas, who has done a great job of getting us started today.
1158 GMT: A large demonstration inside the Justice Palace in Aleppo, Syria's second city --- lawyers are protesting reported massacres by regime forces:
1157 GMT: Anita McNaught's report from Idlib in northwest Syria for Al Jazeera English, before the city reportedly fell to regime forces:
Lavrov told the lower house of Parliament, "Unfortunately, our advice is reflected practically in his actions far from all the time and far from in a timely manner. Yes, he has adopted useful laws to renew the system - to make it more pluralistic than the one-party system that existed there - but with a big delay."
Lavrov warned, "The suggestion to start [national] dialogue is also being made with a delay. Meanwhile the armed resistance is gaining its own dynamic and this inertia can end up engulfing everyone."
Adem Özköse of Gerçek Hayat, and cameraman Hamit Coşkun went to Idlib, under assault by regime forces, a week ago. Their families have not heard from them since Friday.
1035 GMT: In an interview, Bahrain's Commander-in-Chief has revealed the foreign powers behind the protests in the kingdom --- apparently the culprits include Washington, "The US Follows the Policy of Controlling and Dividing the Gulf States":
We find those groups outside some foreign embassies [waiting] to receive instructions and funds. They pay them money and they train them. All that is done by the embassies of foreign states that are known to us quite well. The [financial] support and training are provided by those embassies, and even by Iran and other foreign states that are known to us. This course and programme was announced some time ago, from the time of the then US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. As for Kuwait, I cannot talk about it, but with regard to Bahrain they trained persons who are known to us by name.
With firm control of Egypt’s Parliament, the Brotherhood’s political arm is holding talks to form the next cabinet while Mr. Shater is grooming about 500 future officials to form a government-in-waiting. As the group’s chief policy architect, Mr. Shater is overseeing the blueprint for the new Egypt, negotiating with its current military rulers over their future role, shaping its relations with Israel and a domestic Christian minority, and devising the economic policies the Brotherhood hopes will revive Egypt’s moribund economy.
With power he could only dream of when he padded around [Hosni] Mubarak’s prisons in a white track suit, Mr. Shater meets foreign ambassadors, the executives of multinational corporations and Wall Street firms, and a parade of United States senators and other officials to explain the Brotherhood’s vision. To the Brotherhood, he tells them, Islam requires democracy, free markets and tolerance of religious minorities.
But he also says that recent elections have proved that Egyptians demand an explicitly Islamic state. And he is guiding its creation from a position that his critics say may undercut his avowed commitment to open democracy: he sits atop a secretive and hierarchical organization, shaped by decades of working underground, that still asks its members — including those in Parliament — to swear obedience to the directions of its leaders, whether in the group’s religious, charitable or political work.
0910 GMT: Bahrain's International Affairs Authority has posted the declaration, supported by photographs, that the regime will rebuild 12 Shi'a mosques demolished last year. The IAA says work has already begun on five.
Bahraini authorities levelled dozens of mosques after the start of last February's protests, claiming the buildings were unlicensed.
Many victims said beating began on arrest, then they were beaten severely - including with sticks, rifle butts, whips and fists, braided cables - on arrival at detention centres, a practice sometimes called the "haflet al-istiqbal" or "reception".
Newly-held detainees are usually stripped to their underpants and are sometimes left for up to 24 hours outside....
Detainees are at most risk when being interrogated. Several survivors told of their experience of the dulab (tyre), where the victim is forced into a vehicle tyre --- often hoisted up --- and beaten, including sometimes with cables or sticks.
[There has been] an increase in the reported use of shabeh --- where the victim is suspended, from a raised hook, handle or door frame, or by manacled wrists, so that the feet hang just above the ground or so the tips of toes touch the floor. The individual is then often beaten.
Calling on the Assad regime to end arbitrary detention and abuses, Amnesty has also asked the United Nations Security Council "to investigate crimes under international law, including reported crimes against humanity" and to impose and enforce an arms embargo as well as an assets freeze on President Assad and his close associates.
Nicholas Davies-Jones and Gareth Montgomery-Johnson, who were working for Iran's English-language Press TV, apologised in the footage. "We would like to apologise to Libyan authorities because we have entered the country illegally without a visa," Davies-Jones said. "We hope to see our families fairly soon.".
The two men were detained on 22 February 22 by the Swehli Brigade.
A brigade spokesman said the two Britons, along with a Libyan driver and a Libyan translator, had been transferred to National Transitional Council authorities on Tuesday, but the NTC would not confirm the claim.
0723 GMT: Continuing its advance against leading areas of opposition, the Syrian regime has reportedly taken control of Idlib in the northwest.
Insurgents said regime troops had killed dozens of people, dumping their bodies in a mosque. Fighting was also reported in the Deir Ez Zor in the northeast, and the opposition claimed President Assad's forces continued to shell Homs.
The Local Co-ordination Committees of Syria reported 46 deaths across the country, but other activists outlets said 106 people had perished.
US officials said Assad had rebuffed the efforts of United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan in their talks on Saturday and Sunday. The sources said al-Assad replied to Annan's "concrete proposals" by saying he does not recognize the evnoy as the Arab League's representative.
The officials also echoed the line of Syrian State media that Assad will not do anything until the "terrorist" opposition lays down its arms.