Stuart Ramsay of Britain's Sky News meets members of Syrian security forces held by the Free Syrian Army
See also Syria Audio Feature: "How Significant Are Sanctions?" --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24 br>
Bahrain Analysis: Are the Sunni Movements Still Awake? br>
Monday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Away from the Headlines, "Only" 126 Dead on Sunday br>
Monday's Egypt Live Coverage: A President is Elected --- Now What?
2024 GMT: Syria. Assad's military may have suffered many losses today, but they inflicted incredible damage in the process, mostly to civilian areas. This video, for instance, shows shells falling around an important mosque in Talbiseh, north of Homs (map):
2010 GMT: Syria. To drive home the point that Aleppo is a city surrounded, an activist posts this picture of a map, with rebel strongholds highlighted in green. According to the map, the areas southwest, west, north, northeast, and north are all controlled by the Free Syrian Army:
Is the map accurate? Some areas in that green swath are certainly militarily controlled by insurgents, and its also safe to say that most of those areas are not supportive of the Assad regime, to the point where unless there is a permanent military presence then these areas are not really controlled by the Assad regime. That said, there is a heavy military presence in some of these areas. But Assad is increasingly relying on air strikes, tank raids, and artillery bombardment to establish a military presence in this region.
1947 GMT: Syria. The amount of tanks and armored vehicles that Assad's military has lost today alone, to say nothing of a military base near Aleppo or a helicopter, suggests that the renewed vigor in the regime's military campaigns are coming at an extremely high price.
Earlier, we posted videos of a destroyed BMP and an ambushed tank in Ma'arrat Dibsah (map). This video appears to show a second angle of the destroyed BMP, but it also shows that a nearby T-72 tank was destroyed, meaning potentially 3 armored vehicles and a helicopter were lost in this single small village in Idlib province:
This tank was reportedly destroyed in Kafer Shams, between Daraa and Damascus, an area where the military has been launching a relentless campaign (map).
These reports are in addition to the ones we've already reported, and in addition to the reports we cannot yet confirm. An activist has shared an alleged report from the Free Syrian Army commander that 6 tanks have been destroyed near Deir Ez Zor. While we can't confirm this report, if true it could mean that the total amount of tanks and armored vehicles destroyed today alone could top 20.
These losses, combined with the losses of territory, and the losses from defections, are completely unsustainable for the Assad regime.
1919 GMT: Syria. The LCCS posts a video which claims to show an entire military checkpoint in Dar Izza, Aleppo, defecting to the opposition (map). Videos of defections are nothing new, nor are they terribly significant. However, Dar Izza is just west of the military base that Reuters reports has fallen to the Free Syrian Army. That base is only a little over 10 miles from the edge of Aleppo, arguably the most important city to the Assad regime.
Add this news to the knowledge that the Syrian military has still failed to assert dominance over the area north of Aleppo, and it paints a picture of a city surrounded by enemies. Furthermore, there are reports of large protests in Aleppo, and a low-quality video feed has been posted claiming to show one of the evening protests.
1745 GMT: Syria. Burhan Ghalioun, the Paris-based academic and former head of the opposition Syrian National Council, crossed the border from Turkey today and visited insurgents --- a meeting with opposition members in Idlib Province:
A photo with a Free Syrian Army unit in Sarmada:
1735 GMT: Syria. Amid all the clashes today, with apparent advances by the Free Syrian Army, President Assad has sworn in the new Cabinet of Prime Minister of Riyad Hijab.
I heard three or four explosions, one of them was in my neighbourhood, the others were distant. The security forces and troops were raiding my neighbourhood. I saw a house burning. There were snipers and an anti-aircraft machine gun mounted on a military vehicle. They arrested many people in my area.
Now they have withdrawn. It is quiet now.
We see many indicators here on the ground that they are losing grip. Day after day, the Free Syrian Army troops are moving closer to the city.
Inside Damascus the security forces are fortifying their positions. They don't leave their stations. For the last two months life in Damascus has not been normal. Security compounds have turned into fortresses. You can see troops everywhere. It is like a city with martial law now.
1635 GMT: Syria. There have been massive demonstrations at funerals in Daraa province. We've posted a video previously, but here is a separate funeral. Thousands are in the streets:
However, this video claims to show snipers targeting the protesters, some of whom bravely cross the street in defiance:
Of those, 33 were in Damascus Suburbs (Hameh, Qudsaya, and Douma), 11 in Daraa, 9 in Idlib, 10 in Deir EzZor, 7 in Aleppo, 9 in Homs, 5 in Hama, and 2 in Damascus.
Based on what we've seen, expect that number to rise. Also remember that this number does not include the amount of Assad soldiers and shabiha killed.
1622 GMT: Syria. Earlier we posted video from Ma'arrat Dibsah (map) showing a BMP that had done significant damage to the town, a town that is just west of where a helicopter was destroyed (see update 1509 GMT). Now, we have another video showing that same vehicle on fire:
Also, this video appears to show smoke rising above the town, but as the armored vehicles drive down the road, a roadside bomb goes off, apparently damaging one of the tanks:
1614 GMT: Syria. There are reports of a full-scale military occupation of some suburbs of Damascus. This video shows a convoy arriving in Saqba, and the video below gives an idea of how heavy the security deployment there has become (map):
Note the soldiers with RPGs. In a policing situation, those weapons have no real role to play. Activists, however, routinely report that the Syrian military uses RPGs against buildings, vehicles, and crowds.
1559 GMT: Syria. A significant claim made by Reuters, that insurgents have captured a military base west of Aleppo.
1548 GMT: Syria. More on the destroyed helicopter in Idlib province - there is not evidence that the helicopter LANDED before it was destroyed. This video shows a helicopter on the ground:
But another video (we believe taken from the opposite side of the first video we posted) shows the exploded helicopter, we think taken by the same man as the film above.
At this point it's impossible to verify how the helicopter crashed, or whether the reports of a Free Syrian Army attack are true. However, the Free Syrian Army does appear to be heavily engaged in firefights in the area.
1527 GMT: This LCCS report is from Kafer Shams, a city in Daraa province that is halfway between Daraa city and Darayyah, a Damascus suburb. All three areas have seen heavy fighting today, and Kafer Shams has been the target of a military campaign for more than a week (map):
The number of the martyrs, who fell in the town from bombing by regime forces, and gunfire by security forces, has risen to 9. Bombing the town continues, houses are being destroyed, the number of wounded rose, and there's a lack of first aid.
What we are seeing today is an intensification of a military campaign that has been ongoing for weeks. However, the level of violence in Idlib, around Damascus, and in Daraa province is striking, to say nothing of the heavy shelling of Deir Ez Zor, far to the east - it almost feels like panic on the part of the regime.
1520 GMT: Syria. The entire Ma'arrat al Nouman area of central Homs appears to be under heavy military attack. We've seen pictures of a bombed-out Ma'arrat al Nouman, and videos of shelling throughout the countryside. This extremely graphic video reportedly shows the evactuation of wounded after shells fell in Khan Skeikhoun (map):
1509 GMT: Syria. The helicopter that was shot down in Idlib (see previous entry) was apparently involved in a fierce firefight in the area. This video, take just to the east (map), shows widespread destruction, some of which is the result from a BMP armored vehicle:
1458 GMT: Iraq. The Ministry of Iinterior has given dozens of media outlets 45 days to comply with Communications and Media Commission regulations over licences, otherwise they will face "legal procedures".
Salem Mashkur, a member of the CMC board, had said on Monday that it was restricting 39 media outlets, including the BBC and Voice of America, over problems with licences.
Other reports said 44 outlets had been told to halt operations.
20 martyrs were reported in Damascus Suburbs... 9 in Daraa, 8 in Idlib, 6 in Deir Ezzor, 6 in Homs, 3 in Aleppo, 2 in Hama, and 2 in Damascus.
Shabiha, pro regime militiamen, reportedly fire mortars from a sandbagged position in a tower in Douma:
And this was taken in Qudsaya, the the northwest (map):
1427 GMT: Syria. Daraa city has paid a heavy cost over the course of 16 months, and an extremely heavy cost in the last several weeks. Videos posted this morning show widespread damage from shelling, and there are even more reports of fresh violence.
Despite this, there has been a very large protest rally today in solidarity with Deir Ez Zor, a city which has been even harder hit over the last week or so. Perhaps a thousand or more were in attendance:
1412 GMT: Turkey/Syria. While today's NATO meeting netted some strong words, the Secretary General of NATO made it clear that chapter 5, the part of the treaty with teeth, was never mentioned. This means that without another incident, there is currently zero chance of NATO action against Syria.
Interestingly, however, Turkey seems to be taking no chances. According to Turkish media, the military is sending a convoy of troops to the border:
The shipment included 15 armored tanks, in addition to long-distance guns and other military vehicles.
This video, circulated by a Turkish journalist, claims to show part of that convoy on the roads near the Syrian border:
Turkish military deployment towards Syrian border - > Video: youtu.be/aSNJZjalhvA— A.E.K (@influxTR) June 26, 2012
James Miller takes over today's live coverage from Scott Lucas.
1310 GMT: Egypt. President-elect Mohsmed Morsi meets the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces on Monday:
1240 GMT: Bahrain. The Government has announced, "Disbursement of compensation to the families of 17 deceased persons has begun in keeping with the implementation of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry."
The declared amount was $2.6 million
billion, or $153,000 per victim.
No further details were given.
1220 GMT: Syria. In its 16th round of sanctions, the European Union has placed restrictions on Syria International Islamic Bank and the national oil transport company and imposed a travel ban on President Assad's advisor Bouthaina Shaaban.
A number of regime agencies were also named in the sanctions list, including the defence and interior ministries, the national security bureau, and the national radio and television corporation.
For analysis, listen to EA's Audio Feature.
The departure comes soon after lawyers filed complaints with Egypt's Office of the Prosecutor, charging Shafiq, the last Prime Minister of the Mubarak regime, with corruption.
Claimed footage of shelling of Homs, including a direct hit on a building, setting it ablaze:
The North Atlantic Council discussed the shooting down of a Turkish aircraft by Syria. We consider this act to be unacceptable and condemn it in the strongest terms. It is another example of the Syrian authorities' disregard for international norms, peace and security, and human life. Our thoughts at this difficult time are with the missing Turkish aircrew, their families and their loved ones. We continue to follow the situation closely and with great concern, and will remain seized of developments on the South-Eastern border of NATO.
The security of the Alliance is indivisible. We stand together with Turkey in the spirit of strong solidarity.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said:
I would expect that such an incident won't happen again. Should anything happen, allies will remain seized of developments. We closely monitor the situation, and if necessary we will consult and discuss what else could be done.
1009 GMT: Syria. Martin Chulov of The Guardian discusses the Turkish response to the latest developments, the state of the regime's military, and the situation in Damascus:
0957 GMT: Syria. In his weekly address to Parliament, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced Syria's downing of a Turkish fighter jet as a "heinous attack".
Erdogan, like Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday, claimed that Ankara's plane was briefly in Syrian airspace but was shot down over international waters: "It's not Tayyip Erdogan's but the holy nation's plane which was targeted."
The Prime Minister then warned, "Any approaching military offensive from the Syrian side will be regarded as a threatening target by the Turkish army."
Erdogan also said, "The United Nations and Kofi Annan gave [Syrian President Assad] a plan, but he did not take it seriously. The Syrian regime has no more legitimacy, that is clear. Women, children, the elderly, have been killed relentlessly by this tyranny."
0847 GMT: Syria. Activists of both the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees of Syria report heavy artillery being used to shell Damascus suburbs such as Qudsaya this morning, with clashes around Republican Guards posts in the area.
The Observatory also claimed security forces and armoured vehicles stormed the neighbourhood of Barzeh.
0835 GMT: Syria. A morning demonstration in Sora in Daraa Province:
0810 GMT: Bahrain. The "Eye4Freedom" march in Sitra last night expressed solidarity with the many people who have suffered eye injuries, in some cases losing their sight, when they were struck by objects fired by the security forces:
The daughters of Jaffer Salman, who was blinded and is now imprisoned:
While it is far too early to speak of a [Syrian] state within a state, the rising sophistication of the effort underscores the evolving nature of the conflict and how control over the north and northwestern areas of the country is sloly slipping away from the government....
There are now 10 military councils inside Syria, activists said, incorporating virtually every important town or rural area in revolt, with the notable exception of Homs, where factional differences continue to stymie unity. Activists working with the Syrian National Council, the main Syrian exile group, issue monthly pay packets, starting at $200 per soldier, with more for officers as well as a stipend for the families of those killed....
[Activist Hasan] Kasem described how military leaders have divided Aleppo and areas west toward the Turkish border into five sectors under an overall military council called the Northern Free Brigades. “The group has changed from a voluntary military group into an actual body, a much more organized military structure,” Mr. Kasem said. “They either had to become an organized army, or become a gang.”
Chapter 4 provides for consultations when a member feels its territorial integrity, political independence or security, is under threat. It is only the second time in NATO's 63-year history that the clause has been invoked --- the other occasion was in 2003 to discuss the Iraq War.
Turkey has maintained that the jet was briefly in Syrian airspace but was over international waters when it was downed. Syrian officials have maintained that the airplane was at low altitude over its terrority and that their military did not know that it was Turkish.
The Turkish Cabinet met for seven hours on Monday, with Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc saying that "all options were on the table": "Syria shot down our unarmed jet in a cold-blooded and hostile way in international airspace. International law is on our side."
Arinc said one option was a cut in electricity exports: "We have considered that for humanitarian reasons one should supply electricity to Syria so that the daily lives of the people are not affected. For the moment we will continue with this...but in one or two days there will be a declaration whether we will continue or not."