A rally in the Damascus suburb of Douma on Saturday night with a message about the Houla "masscare", "These are our martyrs, we will never forget them"
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Saturday's Syria, Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: More than 50 Die in Houla; A Presidential Run-Off in Cairo
The toll is likely to increase if the death toll from today's shelling of Hama is as high as feared --- so far the LCCS only claim 25 slain in Hama Province.
2034 GMT: Syria. Activists are reporting on social media tonight that at least thirty people have been killed in regime shelling of Hama.
Opposition sources said the shelling began in the morning on areas near the northern entrance of the city, after a series of insurgent attacks on army roadblocks in the city, and resumed in the evening on the southern al-Malaab district.
Footage has been posted of some of the victims (Warning: Graphic).
Diplomats said Russia is blocking a strong statement condemning the regime, insisting that the Council first hear from Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, the head of the UN's observers in Syria.
The draft statement, which has not been supported by Russia and China, said that the members of the Security Council "condemned in the strongest possible terms the Syrian armed forces’ heavy shelling of a civilian populated area", arguing, "This indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against civilian population constitutes a flagrant violation of international law." It said, "Those responsible for perpetrating this crime must be held accountable."
Meanwhile, the UN observers revised their estimate of the death toll to 108, while the insurgent Free Syria Army said 116 were slain.
A demonstration in the al-Asali section of Damascus today:
1628 GMT: Syria. Alex Thomson of Britain's Channel 4 has been in Houla today with Syrian regime forces. He writes, that despite Friday's mass killing of civilians, "Syrian army keep sending gun-mounted APCs [armoured personnel carriers] to fire", and continues:
Intermittent firefights all over town. Incoming M16 rounds from FSA sniper position.— alex thomson (@alextomo) May 27, 2012
One Syrian soldier shot 10 metres away. They dragged him away.— alex thomson (@alextomo) May 27, 2012
UN told me their work was hampered by a Syrian Army armed APC their vehicles, firing 2 rounds and starting another firefight.— alex thomson (@alextomo) May 27, 2012
Thomson has also posted a blog entry on his day. Despite his position with Syrian forces, he is sceptical of the regime line that Friday's death were due to "terrorists", in part because of the accounts of UN observers:
In the town of Houla they questioned people repeatedly and the story was always the same, that at approximately 12.30pm on Friday after prayers there was a sustained barrage lasting in the region of two hours from the Syrian army.
This was followed by concerted attacks on foot led by the Shabiha, and this is when the masacre occured. The killings, these sources say, happened some time in the period from 3pm on Friday to approximately 1-2am on Saturday.
1620 GMT: Egypt. The campaign of Abdel Moneim Abdel Fotouh, the former senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has said it will file a request for the suspension of the Presidential vote based on a lis of 12 categories of violations, including vote-buying, registration of deceased voters, barring of observer, and mistakes in records.
Abdel Fotouh fared poorly compared to predictions, trailing far behind the top three vote-getters.
Hamadeen Sabahi, who finished third in the ballot, has already filed a request for suspension because of voting irregularities and the disputed qualification of Ahmed Shafiq, the former Vice President in the Mubarak regime, who finished second.
1610 GMT: Morocco. Despite recent Parliamentary elections and declared reforms by the monarchy, the mass protests of February 2011 continue in Morocco --- a march today of workers in Casablanca:
One of those killed, Riad Mahmoud, was among a crowd of 2000-3000 people who marched in the neighbourhood of Yalda on the southern edge of the capital and were confronted by armed members of a secret police division, according to activists.
A senior Arab League official says the Assad regime has denied permission for a deputy of United Nations/Arab League envoy Kofi Annan to travel to Damascus.
The official said Syria blocked the former Palestinian foreign minister Nasser al-Kidwa because it does not want to deal with the Arab League.
Annan is due in Damascus on Monday.
Claimed footage with sounds of clashes between insurgents and regime forces in the Midan section of Damascus today:
1325 GMT: Egypt. A criminal court has found Zakaria Azmi, the Chief of Staff of former President Hosni Mubarak, guilty of corruption, sentencing him to seven years in prison and fining him 36.3 million Egyptian pounds ($6 million).
Elmy was also a legislator and a senior member of Mubarak's National Democratic Party.
Azmi is one of about three dozen key figures of the Mubarak regime in detention facing corruption charges. The group includes two former Prime Ministers, the ex-Speaker of Parliament, and several wealthy businessmen and Cabinet ministers.
Sunday’s verdict comes less than a week before a court is due to issue its ruling in the trial of Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa.
1125 GMT: Syria. A demonstration today in Ma'arat Harma in Idlib Province:
Makdissi said the United Nations Security Council should be looking into who is arming insurgents, inciting violence, and calling for NATO intervention.
Makdissi continued that the regime had shown the images of Friday's killings of more than 90 people in Houla "because we're not afraid. We know what happened."
0950 GMT: Syria. The Twitter account of British Foreign Secretary has been announcing a series of steps after Friday's mass killings:
Hague also said he will soon be speaking to United Nations envoy Kofi Annan and "will call on Russia to support rapid & unequivocal pressure on #Assad regime and accountability for crimes".
Both the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees of Syria claim the explosion occurred in the upscale neighborhood of Mazzeh. The LCCS say the incident was near a military airport.
0730 GMT: Syria. Helene Cooper and Mark Landler of The New York Times report:
In a new effort to halt more than a year of bloodshed in Syria, President Obama will push for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad under a proposal modeled on the transition in another strife-torn Arab country, Yemen.
The plan calls for a negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Mr. Assad’s government in place. Its goal is the kind of transition under way in Yemen, where after months of violent unrest, President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down and hand control to his vice president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in a deal arranged by Yemen’s Arab neighbors. Mr. Hadi, though later elected in an uncontested vote, is viewed as a transitional leader.
The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Mr. Assad’s staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal.
0605 GMT: Syria. Saturday's news was dominated by the aftermath of the killings in Houla in Homs Province the day before. United Nations observers, including the head of the mission, Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, visited the site and reported 92 bodies, including those of 32 children and teenagers.
Victims were later buried in a mass grave, as Mood condemned “in the strongest possible terms the brutal tragedy”. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and the UN envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, went farther. Countering Syrian State media's claim that "Al Qa'eda-linked terrorists" were responsibile, they pointed at the regime:
This appalling and brutal crime, involving indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force, is a flagrant violation of international law and of the commitments of the Syrian government to cease the use of heavy weapons in population centres and violence in all its forms.
Those responsible for perpetrating this crime must be held to account.
Meanwhile, another 60 people reportedly died at the hands of security forces across Syria on Saturday, including 25 in Homs Province and 15 in Idlib Province.