Protesting women greet armoured personnel carriers with peace signs; police respond with sound grenades
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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: This is "Peace" --- Another 90 Die
1900 GMT: We are taking a Saturday night break --- Live Coverage, and a new Syria Daily Feature, will be back at 0630 GMT.
1818 GMT: The Local Co-ordination Committees of Syria claims that 45 people have died today, including three women and four children. Twenty-four of the deaths were in Homs, where several neighbourhoods are being shelled, and 13 in Idlib, where regime forces have moved into the Saraqeb district.
1641 GMT: Andrew Hammond of Reuters writes, amidst reports of widespread use of tear gas by Bahrain's security forces:
back after Sitra. all i can say is that was really insane. cld have been worse too if media hadnt been around— Andrew Hammond (@Hammonda1) March 24, 2012
1628 GMT: An explosion in the Khalidiya section of Homs amidst shelling by regime forces:
Bulent Yildirim, head of the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, said that he was holding discussions with unidentified interlocutors about freelance cameraman Hamit Coskun and reporter Adem Ozkose, who were both working for the Milat newspaper, and that he expected a resolution soon.
The journalists had travelled to Idleb, near the Turkish border, earlier this month as regime forces were trying to seize control of the city. They were reportedly handed over to Syrian intelligence by a pro-regime militia last week.
Seven of the Idlib deaths were in Saraqeb, which was reportedly assaulted by troops backed by 26 tanks which "split the town in two", according to an activist. Residents cowered indoors as explosions rattled Saraqeb and troops swooped to make arrests.
Several neighbourhoods in Homs were shelled by mortars and rockets, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and the town of Qalaat al-Madiq was also pounded.
1528 GMT: A note from photojournalist Mazen Mahdi about 30 minutes ago, as Bahraini security forces moved through Shahrakan village and on Sitra island: "Police just tear-gased @AP photographer and me close range."
He then sends the message, "Police just tear-gassed their own stationed APCs and units in random tear-gassing of Sitra forcing them to evacuate location!"
Meanwhile, prominent activists Bahraa Abdel Nabi Hijazi and Anas Abdel Salam have appeared in court on Saturday on charges of forming a secret organization and taking part in protests hostile to the regime.
The two men were detained on 2 February. Hijazi, the son of a prominent author and journalist, is a director of short films and documentaries, while Abdel Salam is pro-democracy campaigner.
1436 GMT: Activists and photojournalist Mazen Mahdi report that police, including forces in at least five armoured personnel carriers, have arrived in Sitra to disperse protests against the staging of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in the kingdom:
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior sends a message via Twitter, "After a burial in Shahrakan (see 1410 GMT), rioters blocked roads & committed acts of vandalism. Police restored order."
1429 GMT: Egypt's Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs has refused the requests of 20 non-government organisations, since the 25 January uprising against the Mubarak regime, to receive some LE21 million (about $3.5 million) from abroad.
“The ministry refused the requests because they violated the Law 84/2002 [the civil society organizations law],” said the ministry's legal counsellor, Mohamed al-Demerdash. "The ministry does not exert any pressure on NGOs regarding the transfer of funds, but seeks only that the funds be directed in favor of the community and not be used for any political purposes.”
Egypt's new rulers have cracked down on NGOs, raiding 10 of them in December and charging 43 staff, including at least 16 Americans, with criminal violations.
1420 GMT: Video of a Friday rally in Qatif, Saudi Arabia, with protesters, including women, chanting that they will not give up on demanding their rights --- the largely-Shi'a Eastern Province has been the site of recurrent marches for reform and justice:
On Friday, a woman named Abda Ali Abdul Hussein reportedly died in Jidhafs from the effects of the gas.
The funeral procession in Shahrakan:
1400 GMT: Back from a maintenance break to find a series of videos of protests across Syria --- Kherbat al-Ghazalah in Daraa Province:
Maarshamseh in Idlib Province:
Ibtaa in Daraa Province:
Maar Shamsha in Idlib Province:
0735 GMT: At least one person was killed and 18 wounded in clashes between security forces and fans, after the al-Masry football team was banned for two seasons following a stadium disaster last month.
The clashes began late Friday and continued into the early hours of Saturday. The dead man and two of the injured were hit by gunfire.
The Egyptian Football Association banned al-Masry for two seasons after a pitch invasion turned into fighting and turmoil that killed 74 fans. Port Said Stadium, where the stampede took place, will be closed for three years.
Annan will meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday before flying to China.
0625 GMT: We had anticipated that Friday would be another vocal day of protest in Syria, despite --- and indeed because of --- the re-claiming of towns and part of cities by regime forces. What I did not expect was the surge in opposition in Bahrain. A return to James Miller's effective closing summary of Friday's developments:
In Bahrain, there were nine very large protests, most or all of which were attacked by police who used teargas to disperse the crowds. Though protests were planned, they were larger and more energetic today after the news that a man died last night from tear gas inhalation.
Some protesters destroyed closed-circuit TV cameras and threw rocks at police. Apparently, there was at least one occurrence of youth throwing Molotov cocktails.
This anger was sparked by what the activists consider widespread police brutality. Large parts of the island nation were covered in teargas again today, and riot vehicles reportedly chased down protesters in an attempt to run them over. There are also more unconfirmed reports of injured children, and another unconfirmed report that police sexually molested a young girl. Earlier in the week activists say that the police molested and tortured a 16-year-old boy, Ali.
At the end of the day, resolution to this conflict seems further away than it has ever been.
In Syria, the primary headline was arguably the use of helicopters to attack ground targets for the first time that we can confirm. There were several instances of this today and last night, all of them between Aleppo and the border with Turkey.
At nightfall, there are more reports of widespread fighting between FSA soldiers and the Assad military, specifically in Hama and to the east of Damascus.
The other noteworthy video showed an IED attack against Assad infantry in Hama.
However, once again the fact that will be lost to most headline writers is that there were large and widespread protests across the country, including in Damascus and Aleppo. Once again the Syrian opposition has used another Friday to prove that their resistance to the regime cannot be shot or shelled into submission.