Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more



Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Assad "We Will Crush Foreign-Backed Terrorism"

See also Syria Feature: Obama Administration Quietly Backs Arms to Insurgents?
Turkey Live Coverage (7 March): Erdogan Wants A Solution to Syria
Tuesday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Aid Delivered, but No Relief for Homs

2156 GMT: A contact in Bahrain forwards us this poster, a planned opposition strike on March 15 to commemorate the anniversary of one of the bloodiest days of the revolution last year in Sitra village:

2145 GMT: We've been hearing rumors of clashes, possibly between the Free Syrian Army and Assad military, in and around Saqba. Earlier this hour (update 2100 GMT), the LCCS posted video which they said showed the gunfire. Now, the activist network ANA reports a large explosion and heavy gunfire in the Hamoraya district, north of Saqba (map).

Saqba has been under aerial surveillance for several days, and the reports of lowing-flying aircraft and helicopters over head intensified earlier today.

2134 GMT: UPDATE: NPR's Ahmed al Omran says this is from last month (I misread the date).

DRAMATIC footage: a massive explosion in Baba Amr, apparently the work of a large shell:

2128 GMT: Earlier, we posted video showing shelling of the town of Al-Bara, in Idlib province, around the same time that there were reports of defections in the area (see update 1604 GMT). Now, we find a video of an explosion in the middle of a military convoy somewhere near here:

2114 GMT: Another video, this one from the CFDPC, of large protests in the eastern sunurbs of Damascus, this on in Irbin:

2100 GMT: There are widespread reports of protests across Damascus, as well as unconfirmed reports of violence in the eastern suburbs. This video was posted by the LCCS, showing large protests at the Ali Bin Abi Taleb Mosque in Kafar Souseh:

And then there is an equally impressive protest reported in Douma:

But there is also this video, showing the night air above the Ghouta area, specifically Saqba, east of Damascus, lit up with gunfire:

2049 GMT: Here's a view of the shelling of the Karm Al Zeitoun and Rifai districts of Homs, taken from Bab al Dreid (see map of Homs). Most of central and north-eastern Homs was shelled by security forces today:

2007 GMT: Ahmed al Omran shares this video, and gives voice to my reaction:

2001 GMT: A senior US Senator, John McCain, sparred with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. McCain has advocated the establishment of a no-fly zone over Syria, and pushed Panetta hard, asking him how many lives would have to be lost before the US intervened to end the crisis.

"What doesn't make sense is to take unilateral action right now," Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee about advising President Barack Obama to dispatch US forces. "I've got to make very sure we know what the mission is ... achieving that mission at what price."

1950 GMT: Now we have perhaps our first explanation of why UN Human Rights chief Valerie Amos spent so little time in Homs today (45 minutes, see update at 1643 GMT):

1932 GMT: Yet another scene of the total devastation in Homs. This video was reportedly taken today in the central market in the Hamidiya district:

Nearby, a man dashes across the street to avoid snipers. Gunfire rings out at the end of the clip:

1835 GMT: The website Syria Tracker has posted their latest tally of those killed so far in the conflict. According to the interactive database, "10,078 individuals killed in Syria, March 18, 2011 thru March 4, 2012." Also, obvious from their data is a trend - the situation is becoming more dangerous, not less:

1829 GMT: Today's deathtoll in Syria has risen to 40, "7 children and two recruits. In Homs, there were 26 martyrs, 7 in Idlib, 2 in Atareb (Aleppo suburbs), 3 in Daraa and 2 in Damascus suburbs." However, the LCCS also reports several incidents, including shelling in Homs, Shezir (see update 1349 GMT) and several other locations in Hama province, Idlib, and Daraa.

After a relative, and brief, lull in the action for the last two days, it appears that the Syrian military has stepped up its campaigns nationwide.

1633 GMT: The visit to Baba Amr by the International Committee of the Red Cross and UN Human Rights chief Valerie Amos only last 45 minutes, according to the ICRC:

ICRC can confirm that Baroness Amos accompanied the SARC team into Baba Amr. The SARC team and Amos stayed for around 45 minutes.

SARC volunteers said most of the inhabitants of Baba Amr appeared to have left.

They seem to have departed to other suburbs and outlying areas. Those destinations include areas where ICRC and SARC teams have been distributing assistance in recent days.

1622 GMT: The violence in Homs, Syria, appears to be spreading. A leading activist network reports, "Dozens are reported wounded amid heavy shelling by regime forces at the Bab Tadmor and Jab Al-Jandali districts."

They also share this video, reportedly taken today in Bab Tadmor:

Bab Tadmor and Jub al Jandali form the southern border of several prominent districts which are held by the Free Syrian Army. The districts of Hamidiya and Khalidiya are also reportedly being shelled (see this map below, click for larger picture):

1611 GMT: Turning to Saudi Arabia, there have been large protests on the campus of King Khalid University, as female students have called for the improvement of the learning environment, particularly for women. At least 53 students have been injured in clashes with police, according to Al-Watan.

This video reportedly shows a large group of women protesters on the campus today:

Ahmed al Omran, a Saudi blogger who has been following the story closely, also supplies this clarification:

1604 GMT: NPR's Ahmed al Omran shares yet another important video, this one from Al-Bara, west of Ma'arrat al Nouman, the heavily embattled area in Idlib province:

1548 GMT: The death toll is rapidly rising in Homs. The LCCS now reports that 39 people have been killed, nationwide, and among them are 7 children. "In Homs, there were 26 martyrs, 6 in Idlib, 2 in Atareb (Aleppo suburbs), 3 in Daraa and 2 in Damascus suburbs."

Besides the bombardment, which has mostly been focused on the Khalidiya district, the LCCS reports that a new massacre has been uncovered in Baba Amr (Map):

Regime forces committed a new massacre in the farms of Baba Amr neighborhood, where an entire family of Al-Zooaby were slaughtered; the family are 13 people including 5 children.

1536 GMT: Ahmed al Omran shares several impressive videos of large protests in Daraa province:

1524 GMT: According to the BBC, the Syrian Red Crescent and UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos have arrived in the heavily ravaged Baba Amr district in Homs.

1514 GMT: A prominent activist reports that the city of Al Rastan, north of Homs, is once again under attack:

1504 GMT: The LCCS reports a massive escalation in Homs. 25 people have now been killed, according to the activist network. "In Homs, there were 13 martyrs, 5 in Idlib, 2 in Atareb (Aleppo suburbs), 3 in Daraa and 2 in Damascus suburbs."

The majority of the victims in Homs today appear to have been shelled in the Khalidiya district in Homs, an central area occupied by the Free Syrian Army.

1359 GMT: While the Bahraini government is pledging reform, the Bahraini parliament has just passed a law that could easily be used against political activists and writers:

People convicted of intentionally spreading false information that leads to violence could face up to two years in prison and a minimum fine of BD200 ($530.46) in Bahrain, said a senior government official.

Those convicted of publishing false documents, leaflets or fabricated pictures that harm national security and negatively affect the economy will also face the same punishment, if changes to the Penal Code law are approved.

The problem? The Bahraini government has often accused the opposition parties of making up news an exaggerating. Could this bill be used against them? Possibly. Was it designed to target the opposition? That's a better question.

1349 GMT: The Local Coordinating Committees of Syria, a network of activists based inside the country, are saying that 6 people have been killed so far inside Syria, " including two military officers, four martyrs in Idlib, and one martyr in each of Daraa and Atareb in Aleppo." This number is likely already wrong, as the LCCS reports that several people have been killed in Homs.

The activists also report the shelling of several towns in the Hama province, including Shezir, where they report, "more than 15 homes are destroyed and the Ancient Citadel is greatly damaged due to the artillery shelling by the regime's army on the town." The report also mentions a new "split" in the army, suggesting that a unit of Assad soldiers has defected, a possible catalyst for the bombardment.

Beyond this, LCCS posts this video which reportedly shows security forces and "shabiha" on the campus of Aleppo University, near the school of dentistry. Rumors are circulating that there have been arrests:

James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas for getting us started.

0952 GMT:,The New York Times summarises Tuesday's gathering of 3000 people in Libya's second city, Benghazi, calling for an autonomous government.

Participants said an eastern state, known as Barqa, would have its own legislature, budget, police and courts, with Benghazi as the capital. The federal government would continue to control foreign policy, the national army, and oil production.

0945 GMT: A Tuesday night protest in Sitra in Bahrain:

And a march in Sehla condemning attacks by security forces on women:

0935 GMT: Yemeni officials say the death toll from Sunday's attack by insurgents against soldiers has risen to 184.

Air raids since the attack, in the south of the country, have killed at least 42 militants, ecurity officials said.

0805 GMT: A Bahraini source reports that opposition societies, human rights activists, and religious councils have posted a list of demands in advance of Friday's mass rally.

Responding to the claim of King Hamad that protests only repreesent a handful of people, the opposition called for "a real constitutional monarchy" with a legislature with full powers, an exit of Saudi troops and the withdrawal of the military from the streets, accountability of those responsible for abuses of citizens, a law against discrimination and sectarianism, compensation of the families of those killed and wounded in the political conflict, rebuilding of destroyed mosques and houses of worship, and a fair judicial system.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Hassan Issa, a former MP and prominent member of the opposition Al Wefaq, has visited the homes of youth from Sitra who were seized on Monday night.

Issa claimed that raiding police did not allow families to see arrest warrants, insulted them, and damaged furniture. He said police ignored warnings that one of the detainees, Mahmood Saleh Mahdi, is seriously ill.

The opposition February 14 Coalition has posted a video of their letter to Formula One head Bernie Ecclestone, demanding that he called off this year's race in Bahrain: "We do not accept the distortion of this popular sport for the sake of obliging a falling dictatorship."

0715 GMT: The head of humanitarian relief for the United Nations, Baroness Amos, arrives in Syria today --- after protracted negotations with the regime to allow her entry --- "to urge all sides to allow unhindered access for humanitarian relief workers so they can evacuate the wounded and deliver essential supplies". 

It is unclear how much Amos or the UN's special envoy, Kofi Annan, who arrives on Friday, will see --- Syrian authorities have said they will visit "some parts" of the country

And President Assad is certainly not talking of humanitarian matters. On Tuesday, he was quoted by the Syrian State news agency SANA, "The Syrian people, who have in the past managed to crush foreign plots ... have again proven their capacity to defend the nation and to build a new Syria through their determination to pursue reforms along with the fight against foreign-backed terrorism."

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Syria Feature: Obama Administration Quietly Backs Arms to Insurgents? | Main | Iran Feature: The Week in Civil Society, from the Elections to Abuses to a "Documentary" (Arseh Sevom) »

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>