Claimed eyewitness testimony to Wednesday's mass killings in al-Qubair in Syria's Hama Province
See also Syria Transcript: Kofi Annan's Speech to the UN General Assembly br>
Palestine Feature: The "Lost" Refugees on the Iraq-Syria Border br>
Yemen Feature: Who are the Competing Factions? br>
Turkey Live Coverage (7 June): Politics and Pressure over the Kurdistan Talks br>
Wednesday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Spread of the Conflict
2030 GMT: Syria. Back from an extended academic break to find that UN monitors returned to their base in Hama after being unable to visit the site of Wednesday's mass killing in the village of al-Qubeir.
Meanwhile, State news agency SANA has posted the regime's presentation of the slayings:
Several people from Mazraat al-Qubeir and Marzaf villages in Hama countryside narrated the horror and crimes which were committed by the armed terrorist groups against them, revealing the reality of the horrific crime which took place in their village last night as 9 citizens were killed with cold blood.
In phone calls with the Syrian TV, Abu Hawash, a citizen from Mazraat al-Qubeir village, said that armed terrorists who had RPG launchers and PKC machineguns stormed the area and attacked children and women, calling on the Syrian army and law-enforcement forces to protect them from the terrorists.
Another citizen denounced the bloody satellite channels which are counterfeiting the truth to serve their interests.
For his part, Abu Mohammad said an armed terrorist group infiltrated to Mazraat al-Qubeir and killed 9 citizens, adding that after the crime took place, the residents called the authorities to protect them.
1530 GMT: Syria. Catching up with the speeches at the United Nations --- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asserted, "Everyday more people die, everyday more people are force from their homes. All violence must end --- from the regime, from the armed opposition."
Significantly, Ban went beyond the general call to focus on the regime, "President Assad and his government have lost all legitimacy". He demanded that Assad "urgently and unconditionally" implement the six-point plan put forward by United Nations envoy Kofi Annan.
Ban also added details to the problems for UN monitors reaching al-Qubair, site of what he called "shocking and sickening" killing, committeed with "unspeakable barbarity". He said the observers were fired upon with small arms as they tried to get to the village.
Annan followed with his own judgement (see transcript of his speech) between the regime and the insurgents:
President Assad believed the main obstacle was the actions of militants. Clearly, all parties must cease violence. But equally clearly, the first responsibility lies with the Government.
Since then, shelling of cities has intensified. Government-backed militia seem to have free rein with appalling consequences. Yes, some detainees have been released, and agreement has been reached on modalities for humanitarian assistance. But the hour demands much more. And President Assad has not indicated a change of course in his recent address to the National Assembly.
A resident of Mazraat al-Qubair said troops shelled the area for five hours Wednesday before government-aligned militiamen known as shabiha entered the area, "killing and hacking everyone they could find."
Leith Al-Hamwy told The Associated Press by telephone that he survived by hiding in an olive grove about 800 meters from the farms as the killings were taking place. But he said his mother and six siblings, the youngest 10-year-old twins, did not. "When I came out of hiding and went inside the houses, I saw bodies everywhere. Entire families either shot or killed with sharp sticks and knives," he said.
Al-Hamwy said the gunmen set his family home on fire and his family burned to death. Around 80 people in total died, he said, many of them children, and 18 homes were either destroyed by the shelling or burned down.
1355 GMT: Syria. Two videos from Rastan in Homs Province --- first, the latest group defection from the regime army:
And claimed footage of the launch of the first "free police station" in the town:
The bill may still become law, however, if Parliament approves it with a two-thirds majority. Defendants who repent in court will be jailed for five years and/or fined $36,000, though repentance will not be accepted for a second offence.This week a Shia Muslim, Hamad al-Naqi, was given a 10-year sentence for allegedly making blasphemous remarks on Twitter.
1316 GMT: Yemen. Reporters Without Borders has condemned the one-year jail sentence and fine of 200,000 ryals (about $950) that a court gave journalist Majed Karout on Monday for posting “lies” about a local official on Facebook.
Karout, who works for Masdar Online was tried over a composite photo posted on Facebook by another person on 18 February 2011 in which Karout was tagged. It implied that the head of the Al-Bayda branch of the State Communications Agency, Mohamed Moussa Al-Qarfoushi, was involved in corruption. The photo was accompanied by a letter of several pages purportedly written by employees of the agency and addressed to the Minister of Communications minister and other senior officials about alleged irregularities by Qarfoushi.
1310 GMT: Syria. General Robert Mood, the head of United Nations observers, has confirmed that monitors were prevented from reaching the site of the alleged massacre at al-Qubair, "They are being stopped at Syrian army checkpoints and in some cases turned back. Some of our patrols are being stopped by civilians in the area."
Mood claimed information from residents "that the safety of our observers is at risk if we enter the village of Mazraat al-Qubair".
1259 GMT: Syria. Back from an academic break --- specifically, to hear a talk from Ramita Navai, who reported undercover from Syria last autumn about violence and the insurgency --- to find activist Mousab Alhamadee talking to The Guardian about the "horrible massacre" in al-Qubair on Wednesday, claiming at least 78 dead, and the refusal to let United Nations monitors into the village:
1118 GMT: Syria. In the diplomatic manoeuvres before Kofi Annan's address to the United Nations Security Council, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for a "full transfer of power" in Damascus, with the "the establishment of a fully representative and inclusive interim government which leads to free and fair elections, a ceasefire to be observed by all and equality for all Syrians under the law".
Meanwhile, a statement from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes China and Russia, stood against foreign intervention: "Member states stress the need to stop any violence on the territory of Syria wherever it is coming from, they respect broad nationwide dialogue, based on independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria."
1112 GMT: Syria. In an assessment based on observation from 18 to 26 March, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates, "At least one million people in Syria are in need of urgent assistance. This includes people injured during fighting; families who have lost their breadwinners or left their home areas; host communities; and those whose vulnerability has increased due to the impact of the unrest on livelihoods and access to essential services."
The report also includes the evaluation of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, "As of 31 May, 78,137 Syrian refugees were being assisted in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, of which 67,212 had been registered with UNHCR. This marked an increase of 4,822 people from the previous week and was more than double the number at the outset of April. UNICEF estimates that around half of all displaced Syrians are children and adolescents, who are faced with interruption."
1039 GMT: Syria. Activists claim that the Syrian army has prevented a team of United Nations monitors from entering the village of al-Qubayr to investigate reports of the killing of up to 100 villagers by pro-regime forces.
Sausan Ghosheh, a spokeswoman for the UN monitors, would not comment directly on the claim: "We have dispatched a patrol which is trying to get access there."
Lieutenant Sara al-Musa, denied that she abused Saeed, who is the Bahrain correspondent of France 24 and Radio Monte Carlo Doualiya, on 22 May.
Saeed said she was badly beaten and humiliated by several policewomen after she was accused of lying in her reports. She was released after midnight. Days later the Ministry of Interior announced proceedings against those accused of mistreating her.
The hearing was adjourned to June 24 for further deliberation.Musa is accused of torturing Saeed while the journalist was in custody on May 22 last year.
0830 GMT: Syria. Protesters raise the "flag of independence" in the Saleheddin section of Aleppo:
0635 GMT: Bahrain. The recently-established Bahrain Centre for Studies in London posts its second report, a study of the different positions among Jordan's political forces on the Bahraini conflict.
0605 GMT: Bahrain. On Monday, human rights activist Nabeel Rajab spoke on Al Jazeera English's The Stream; on Wednesday, he was detained on new charges.
During the programme, presenters had asked Fahad Albinali of the regime's Information Affairs Authority for a promise that Rajab and former MP Matar Matar, would not be punished for their appearances. Albinali denied Wednesday that there was any connection between The Stream and Rajab's latest detention.
On Tuesday, after Rajab received his summons for interrogation by prosecutors, Al Jazeera English spoke to him. A summary on The Stream and the full interview with Rajab, who says, "I don't think they will put me in jail" --- note also his comments on the regime's use of social media, for example, through fake Twitter accounts:
0555 GMT: Syria. A telling message from the BBC's Jon Williams as he travels through Syria:
Sign seen most often in #Syria not pro or anti-Assad but "no credit cards, cash only" & "Visa, MasterCard suspended". Financial impact real.— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) June 6, 2012
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Arab League chief Nabil El Araby, and a representative of UN Human Rights Commissioner chief Navi Pillay will address an open meeting of the UN General Assembly before Annan briefs the Security Council behind closed doors.
But will Annan refer to Wednesday's events at al-Qubair, with the claim of about 100 civilians slain by the pro-regime shabiha, and how this affects his proposals?
0500 GMT: Syria. Initially, Wednesday's news about Syria was marked by the emergence of a "Plan B", first through Russia and then through other sources pointing to the US, for a resolution to the political crisis. Trying to rescue United Nations envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan, an international coalition would persuade President Assad to step down and accept exile, probably in Russia, while a transition of power was implemented.
However, as the powers involved were fencing over details --- Russia said Iran was part of the coalition to press Damascus; the US said no --- and as questions mounted, e.g., "Who exactly in the regime was going to lead the transitional process?" and "Who exactly in the regime would even countenance the proposition", Plan B was overtaken by the violence beyond chatters and leaks to the press.
By the end of the day, activists were claiming that more than 140 people had been slain. About 100 of those were reportedly in al-Qubair, a village in Hama Province. In a narrative reminiscent of the 25 May attack that killed at least 108 people in the town of Houla, pro-regime "shabiha" were said to have stormed the village after it had been shelled by President Assad's forces.
The Local Coordination Councils of Syria claimed that it had a reliable count of 78 bodies, including 35 members of an extended family. Dozens of women and children were among the dead.
A map of Wednesday's protests against the regime:
View Syria - Wednesday 06/06/2012 in a larger map