The anti-regime protest last night in the Damascus suburb of Douma
Syria 1st-Hand: "The First Breakdown of Regime Control in Aleppo" br>
Israel Video, Transcript, & Snap Analysis: Netanyahu's Speech to AIPAC br>
Monday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: At Least 58 Dead on Sunday
2055 GMT: This may look like fireworks on a black screen, but it was posted by the LCCS who say that it was taken tonight in Qorieh, Deir Ez Zor. According to multiple sources, there is heavy fighting in the area, and we've been hearing unconfirmed reports that the battles between the Free Syrian Army and the Assad forces stretch as far north as Deir Ez Zor.
"The United States is trying as hard as it can to show the world it knows what is occurring in Syria. On February 28 I spoke to the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee with the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman. In our opening remarks before the committee we said that “the United States and the broader international community are determined not to allow two members of the Security Council to prevent the pursuit of a political solution to the crisis in Syria and the provision of urgent assistance to the Syrian people.” The majority of the world community stands with the Syrian people."
The first video, dated February 25, 2012, shows artillery aimed at Homs, and the resulting smoke (click for full-size):
The second photo shows the difference between Baba Amr on February 5 and February 29. In a single city block, the photo points out the extensive damage to a school, a mosque, several other buildings, and the street (click for full-size):
1958 GMT: This video, reportedly taken near Inshaat, (we believe at Al Tawzee Al Ijbari) in Homs, was taken from a moving vehicle. Activists are taking more chances, as such a video would have been impossible to shoot only a week ago. The scale of the damage is immediately clear:
1939 GMT: According to the LCCS, a network of activists in Syria, 39 people have been killed by security forces nationwide, "11 martyrs in Daraa; 4 martyrs in Idlib; 1 martyr in Damascus; and the remainder in Homs."
The fall of four martyrs and dozens wounded by the continued shelling by regimes army for homes, especially in the Eastern axis of the city, in addition to tanks on the Aleppo-Damascus Highway.
1539 GMT: For months there have been rumors circulating of the pro-Assad forces in Homs torturing political prisoners, or those injured in the regime's attacks. In cities across Syria, activists are afraid of hospitals, as some injured protesters have reportedly been arrested while still on the operating table. Even yet, there were darker rumors of torture.
The community of journalists following Syria have seen this video, but UK's channel 4 provides an excellent transcript and analysis.
This is what is happening inside the Homs army hospital, according to activists - torture of the worst kind.
1504 GMT: The Bahraini ambassador to the United States, Houda Nonoo, has condemned a decision to freeze the sale of $53 million in arms to the Gulf nation:
A year has passed and propaganda continues to misrepresent the evolution of my country. Bahrain — known as the Pearl of the Gulf, the land of a million palm trees, the island of a thousand smiles — is now referred to as just another “dictatorship” with a brutal regime.
This propaganda has distorted our reality. In Congress, this distorted reality has resulted in a call by some members to delay a $53 million arms sale that is critical both to our national security and to American interests in the Gulf. Bahrain has long been an outpost of progressivism in the Middle East and is proud to host the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. We will continue to respond to the will and need of our people to create greater representation in government.
Nonoo went on to argue that the Bahraini government is in the middle of implementing reforms, much of its criticism is hyperbole, and the opposition in Bahrain has refused to cooperate with the Bahraini government.
1446 GMT: There are reports from multiple sources that the city of Ma'arrat al Nouman, in Idlib province, is being attacked by Assad soldiers today. This video reportedly shows bullets hitting the wall of what appear to be houses:
And this video appears to show a tank firing in the area:
It's very rare that the Free Syrian Army, or any militarized wing of the opposition, take video of an attack such as this one. We cannot verify the video, though it was uploaded by a reliable activist news network.
We shared this video with NPR's Ahmed al Omran, who translates the cameraman:
He says: "a sniper operation by a member of martyr Mohammad al-Khaled brigade."
Successive explosions shake the city and the shelling with heavy artillery and machine guns is continued targeting homes and mosques. In addition to a camping of inspections for houses, burning some of them and steal their property accompanied by a campaign of arbitrary arrests, intimidation and insult of the people, and reports about martyrdom of a child.
LCCS has posted this dramatic video, reportedly showing a shell hit a residential building after the nearby mosque had already been damaged. Another video reportedly shows the damage to the mosque, and several other videos have shown gory pictures of injured residents from the city.
1401 GMT: In an interview with the Guardian, "Sami," reporting from Inshaat, Homs, says that rumors of residents returning to Baba Amr are false:
Sami, who was speaking via Skype from the Insha'at area, which neighbours Baba Amr, said: "We can see the north entrance of Baba Amr so we know no one has tried to go back there."
He said the accents of people interviewed in a state TV report purporting to show residents return to Baba Amr, suggested they were from coastal areas. "It makes me laugh when I see the State TV trying to show those people as residents of Baba Amr. We know that it is untrue ... They were not from the area. No one is trying to go back to Baba Amr," he said.
Sami confirmed that the Red Cross was still being prevented from entering Baba Amr. He suspected the authorities were trying to "fix" the area and "erase their crimes" before the Red Cross is allowed in.
In his neighbourhood of Insha'at, residents have been trying to return home after last month's shelling. But military check points have prevented some men returning. "Sometimes they only allow women to return home, and men aren't allow to enter yet," he said.
There have been reprisal attacks in Baba Amr since the area fell to the Syrian army, but not in the Insha'at area.
Sami also reports that the Khalidiya, Hamidiya, and Bayada districts are still home to large amounts of Free Syrian Army soldiers who still control the districts. Sami reports that fighting has been occurring on the borders of these districts, especially in Hamidiya for days, matching the evidence that EA has collected. Yesterday, several videos showed Hamidiya being heavily shelled. (see a map of Homs below).
You can read the entire report here, or listen to the audio below:
1330 GMT: Baba Amr may be occupied by regime troops, but many areas of Homs were shelled yesterday. Today, EA's contact, "Sami," in the Inshaat district of Homs, reports that there is heavy regime activity. Tanks have moved through the streets, posters of Bashar al Assad have been put in central locations, and many ambulances could be seen, "probably to remove corpses ."
Even though Homs was attacked before the first week in February, it has been a warzone ever since:
1310 GMT: Bahrain had previously asked the UN to delay the visit of their human rights envoy until July. However, Reuters now reports that Bahrain has blocked the visit, scheduled to start this week. Bahrain appears to have used Visa restrictions to stop Juan Mendez, the UN's investigator, from entering the country.
However, the UN is not the only ones being blocked. Several rights groups have also cancelled their missions after unfair Visa restrictions.
As the violence continues, three international rights groups, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, have said Bahrain's Human Rights and Social Development Ministry informed them this week of new rules limiting them to five-day trips which must be arranged via a Bahraini sponsor.
"Regrettably we have cancelled the fact-finding visit to Bahrain ... as the new five day limit imposed by the Bahraini authorities for visits by international human rights organisations is a serious impediment," Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, a regional Amnesty deputy director, said in a statement.
"The Bahraini authorities have repeatedly stated their commitment to undertake human rights reform and to cooperate with human rights organisations. These new restrictions contradict such commitment," she said.
"Humanitarian aid corridors must immediately be opened," Erdogan told a parliamentary meeting of his AKP party, urging the international community to put pressure on Damascus to allow the delivery of relief supplies to civilians.
But the prime minister did not comment on the possible location for an aid corridor into Syria with whom Turkey shares a 910-kilometer (560-mile) border.
In the parliament, Erdogan accused his one-time ally President Bashar al-Assad of ramping up the violence against the Syrian opposition whom he saluted for their "honorable and determined resistance."
This echoes sentiments that Turkey, and France, stated months ago. The question, however, is whether Turkey, or France, or an organization like the Arab League, is willing to impose these corridors if (likely when) the Assad regime refuses to establish them. These statements were not made in passing, but were made in front of Parliament, suggesting that Erdogan may be trying to secure domestic political support for any such action.
Because it's hard to believe, but possible, that Erdogan would reissue the same threat he made months ago while still failing to act.
James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thank you, Scott Lucas, for getting us started this morning.
0945 GMT: An EA correspondent in Bahrain reports:
Late last night, police entered the island of Sitra with their armoured SUVs and split into five groups raiding villages of the island. They broke into houses, beat the civilians, trashing the belongings, and stole electronics and other goods.
A total of 22 houses were raided, but there were only 10 arrests since some of the youth were not at home.
Those arrested: Mohamed Ali Alsawad, 16 years old; Mahmood Saleh Mahdi, said by his family to need continuos medical care; Rida Omran Kuthair, 17 years old; Ahmed Ebrahim Khazaz; Hassan Alhananah; Hussain Alhananah; Hussain Qumaish; Abdullah Ahmed Hubail Almuslim; Sadiq Alwanah; and Ali Mossa Almoamen, te cousin of Ali Almoamen, killed earlier in the protests.
The arrested youth are expected to accused of causing an accident in which four policeman were injured when their SUV crashed into a wall.
0710 GMT: We begin in Homs, Syria's third-largest city. After days of negotiation, the Red Cross finally brought aid into al-Tawzii and Inshaat. They brought food and blankets for "several thousand people", including families who fled the neighbouring section of Baba Amr, taken over last week by regime forces after a 27-day siege and bombardment.
Meanwhile, we have no further news on a large explosion which shook the Barzeh district of Damascus last night.
Activists in Syria claim 15 people died on Monday --- six in Homs, two each in Idlib, Daraa, and Aleppo, and one each in the Damascus suburb of Yabroud, Jableh, and Raqqa.