A Free Syrian Army officer claims the assassination of several top officials of the Assad regime (see 0630 GMT)
See also Algeria Video Feature: The Uprising That Wasn't br>
Bahrain Live Coverage: Regime Says, "This Protest Good, This Protest Bad" br>
Saturday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Shelling in the Morning, Protests in the Afternoon
United Nations observers moving through the rubble of Rastan:
Al-Megrahi was sentenced to life in prison in 2001, but was released on compassionate grounds in August 2009 after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
1324 GMT: Syria. The Local Co-ordination Committees of Syria claim that seven people have been killed by security forces today --- two each in Homs and Idlib Province, and one each in Damascus, the Damascus suburbs, and Hama.
The LCCS also said six "nonviolent activists", arrested last year, had been given three-year prison sentences for "armed insurrection".
1318 GMT: Syria. A roadside bomb has exploded about 150 meters (165 yards) from a United Nations convoy with the head of the monitors, Major General Robert Mood, and UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous.
Mood's car was stopped at an army checkpoint in the Damascus suburb of Douma when the bomb detonated in an nearby alleyway. There were no reports of casualties.
A security source in Douma said there were clashes earlier in the day in which 29 members of the security forces were wounded.
This is the second occasion this month when a UN convoy has been close to an explosion.
1309 GMT: Syria. Minister of Interior Mohammad al Sha'ar, one of the eight claimed victims of the "assassination" operation by a Free Syrian Army unit, denies reports of his death:
The Free Syrian Army had challenged the regime to show any of the eight men live on television:
1259 GMT: Syria. We are still in a phase of competing rumours over the "assassination"/non-assassination of top officials of the Assad regime -- speculation includes the regime setting up the incident to discredit the opposition or forcing the would-be assassin, captured after his attempt failed, telling superiors that the plan worked, thus setting off their incorrect and embarrassing claim of success.
An activist in the Revolutionary Council for Damascus has told Haroon Siddique of The Guardian, in line with other reports, that the operation was to poison the senior officials:
We have confirmation from the Free Syrian Army, from the battalion itself that an operation took place yesterday. It was carried out and it just went well but we still have no confirmation of those who were hurt or those who died because of it. So now we are still waiting for the news to see who really died and who really didn't but we have confirmation that something happened.
Responding to the denials of State media, including interview with two of the targeted Assad advisors, she said:
We still have other four figures who did not appear so far and perhaps they may not appear. Some of them might be recovering from what happened last night. We were told that they were poisoned but we do not know who died last night, as I told you, so maybe the regime is taking some time now to try to solve what is happening, trying to cover up for what happened. Maybe they're waiting for those who are still recovering and they will appear on TV after they are well. But we think that at least one or two figures died yesterday.
Jarrah said that the Al-Sahabeh Battalion, which claimed the operation, has now said the eight officials were at a meeting where they were poisoned. He adds that there was a report of a large security presence outside a hospital near the Presidential residence, but this was disproved by citizen journalists who surveyed the area. The journalists did confirm that a main square was closed off, with regime forces at all entrances and exits.
Jarrah says he has a "direct quote" from Riad Al Asaad, the FSA commander based in Turkey, that the "only genuine news" is over overnight clashes in the Kafarsouseh area --- reported earlier by activists --- with two explosions.
More than 300 people, most of them protesters, were arrested when the military cracked down on demonstrators on 4 May, following clashes in which several protesters were killed by armed men.
Those arrested during the clashes face several charges, including infringing upon state institutions, using violence against members of the armed forces, halting traffic, illegal gathering and having breached a military area.
Human Rights Watch has claimed (see 0913 GMT) that the troops beat and tortured those arrested.
1033 GMT: Syria. Claimed footage of a Free Syrian Army unit attacking a checkpoint in Hama on Saturday night:
0913 GMT: Egypt. Human Rights Watch has claimed, citing interviews with victims and lawyers, that troops beat and tortured protesters arrested at a sit-in demonstration near the Ministry of Defense on 4 May. HRW also said that the military failed to protect protesters from attacks by armed groups, killing several demonstrators, two days earlier.
The military arrested at least 350 protesters, including 10 children and 16 women. At least 256 remain in detention.
0903 GMT: Syria. The SANA State news agency carries a statement from Deputy Vice-President Hassan Turkmani, one of the eight top officials whom the Free Syrian Army claims it assassinated:
The news reported by Al Jazeera is completely baseless and reflects full media bankruptcy. My colleagues and I are safe and sound and serving our duties assuredly. These false news go unheeded by the Syrian people because they already know that they are blatant lies.
SANA also cites Minister of Interior Mohammad al-Shaar, another claimed victim:
The news reported by al-Jazeera is groundless....We are used to hearing such news led by the lies and allegation campaign.
I am speaking from my office at the Interior Ministry…All my colleagues are performing their duties. It is regrettable that we became accustomed to such laughable news by bankrupt channels since the onset of the crisis in Syria that encourage shedding more Syrian blood.
It is time they stopped belittling the perception of people, especially the Syrian people, who have become hateful listening to such channels....It is time they stopped paying immense sums of money to mislead and bank on the feelings of people.
I wished that the funders of al-Jazeera would pay if only around 500 dollars monthly for the people in Jerusalem under Israeli occupation to remain steadfast in their land…Haven't they heard of the plan of the Israeli occupation authorities to displace the people of Jerusalem?....
We are accustomed to seeing them pleased with the bloodshed in Syria when they broadcast images of scattered human remains as a result of terrorist car bombs…They are pleased to see the Syrians killed by these terrorist acts.
0846 GMT: Syria. Claimed footage of insurgents taking control of a building and checkpoint in Al Atareb in Aleppo Province --- Al Atareb is close to the Bab Al Hawa crossing on the Turkish border, where battles were reported on Friday:
0734 GMT: Syria. Pictures of five of the eight high-level officials whom a Free Syrian Army unit claims to have assassinated (the bottom-centre photo is erroneously labelled as Hesham Bekhtyar; it is actually Ali Mamlouk):
0714 GMT: Syria. State TV is denying the Free Syrian Army's claim that it has assassinated eight of President Assad's highest-ranking officials (see 0630 GMT).
An activist noted 30 minutes ago:
Activist Rami Jarrah adds:
Hassan Turkmani and Mohammad Shaar were just on phone call with #Syria statetv asking for apology from any channels claiming they were dead— Alexander Page (@AlexanderPageSY) May 20, 2012
0710 GMT: Syria. A cameraman has a encounter with a shell in Rastan:
0630 GMT: Syria. A unit of the insurgent Free Syrian Army in Damascus has put out a video (see top of entry) claiming the assassination of the head of military intelligence and President Assad's brother-in-law Assef Shawket; the Minister of Defense, Dawoud Rajiha; the Minister of Interior, Mohammad al Sha'ar; Deputy Vice-President Hassan Turkmani; and Hesham Bekhtyar and Mohammad Saeed Bkhetan of the National Security Council.
I emphasise that there is no confirmation of this claim.
Ben Rhodes, an Obama deputy national security adviser, said the recent focus on securing access for U.N. monitors and keeping track of ceasefires had distracted from the fundamental problems in Syria....
“It is our assessment that you are not going to be able to solve this problem just with monitors and ceasefires, that you need to have a political process underway that is responsive to the Syrian people, because otherwise you are not going to solve the problem,” Rhodes said....
Obama brought up Yemen as an example of a leader departing power peacefully and ushering in a democratic process, Rhodes said, telling the press: “Our point was that we need to see political transition underway that brings real change to Syria.”
“We believe that change has to include Bashar al-Assad leaving power. And unless you begin the process of a political transition of some sort, you are not going to be able to deal with reducing the violence and addressing the grievances of the people who came out in the street to start with,” Rhodes said.
What Obama did not mention, at least in the summary offered by Rhodes, was how many months it took before Saleh reluctantly accepted an arrangement for his departure. Nor did the US President explain how Assad would be prompted to accept a transition.
Students renew their protests at Syria's Aleppo University on Saturday: