Sounds of Friday's night fighting in the Syrian capital Damascus
See also Syria Video Feature: Regime Troops Celebrate Over Bodies in Idlib br>
Syria 1st-Hand: Journalists Visit al-Qubair "No One Can Deny the Brutal Killings" br>
Syria Video Feature: Friday's Protests Across the Country br>
Friday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Annan Plan is Failing --- We Must Have the Annan Plan
2045 GMT: Bahrain. Images from clashes in Sitra tonight after a rally for political prisoners:
1955 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees of Syria say 70 people have died at the hands of security forces today, including 26 in Daraa Province, 29 in Homs Province, and 12 in Lattakia Province.
1950 GMT: Syria. The Guardian headlines with a very different perspective on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's statement than ours (see 1705 GMT), "Russia Backs Assad's Departure: 'If That is What Syrians Want': Foreign Minister's Comments Suggest that Moscow's Backing for Syrian President is Weakening":
Russia has indicated that it will no longer stand in the way of the departure of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad if that is what Syrians want....While the Russian remarks remain obscure on how that political transition might be achieved, they suggest a weakening of Moscow's backing for Assad in the midst of growing international calls for his departure.
The only problem with this line is that it distorts Lavrov's statement:
If the Syrians agree [on Assad's departure] between each other, we will only be happy to support such a solution. But...it is unacceptable to impose the conditions for such a dialogue from outside.
That firm warning against intervention is a different emphasis from earlier in the week, when Moscow indicated that it would not insist on Assad's remaining in power as it called for an international meeting to discuss a transition.
Lavrov's tougher line today over foreign involvement could be because of differences with the US over the inclusion of Iran in the international contact group. That is far different from a "weakening" of Moscow's position on Assad.
First, there's Timoney smack-down of the British for past errors:
The colonial order of the Brits was to keep them under control and do what you have to do to keep them under control. Don’t get too involved in the day-to-day lives of people. Not just here, but in Hong Kong, Burma --- that’s how the British controlled their empire. Law and order policing....The experiences here are a colonial one. And a lot of the police forces in the region are like this.
Even more striking is Timoney's assertion, buried deep in the interview, "Contrary to what you read, I have never ordered the use of tear gas. Never. Never used tear gas, ever.”
So if Timoney did not issue the command, who has been authorising the repeated use of tear gas? And what does this say about his position, as he declares, "I have no decision-making powers here. I’m just a technical advisor.”
1729 GMT: Bahrain. Claimed footage of hooded security forces inside a house in Abu Saiba during a raid:
1705 GMT: Egypt. Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has put out a series of Twitter messages summarising Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's latest statement on Syria --- among them:
The 84-year-old Mubarak, who was in a military hospital during his trial, was moved to the prison after he was convicted and given a life sentence last week.
1655 GMT: Syria. Regime forces in the Damascus suburb of Douma today:
1650 GMT: Syria. Claimed footage of the funeral procession for the 20 victims of today's shelling of Daraa:
And the funeral gathering in the Damascus suburb of Qaboun for five dead:
1645 GMT: Bahrain. In anticipation of Thursday's court hearing in the case of the 20 medics, arrested after they treated injured protesters during last years violence, the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies has called on the King of Bahrain to ensure their "full exoneration". In a letter to King Hamad, the organisation also asks that representatives from the group be allowed to attend the hearing, where final verdicts are expected to be heard, given the historic "lack of openness of the court proceedings to the public".
The organisation also released a public statement expanding on its demands in calling for the immediate release of the 5 healthcare professionals - Younis Ashouri, Hassan Maatouq, Ahmed Almushatat, Hasan Alarabi and Ahmed Mahdi Saleh - who were "unjustly imprisoned and sentenced to terms ranging from six months to three years". The statement also calls on King Hamad to "implement immediately all recommendations" in the BICI report and to "Reinstate and remunerate promptly and fully all health professionals removed from their jobs since peaceful demonstrations began."
1415 GMT: Bahrain. A police squad chases an elderly man on Friday in Nabih Saleh:
1405 GMT: Syria. A LiveStream, completed about an hour ago, of today's regime shelling of Homs.
1345 GMT: Egypt. Footage of Friday's demonstration in Tahrir Square in Cairo against sexual harassment, before it was attacked (see 0635 GMT):
1215 GMT: Syria. Claimed footage of a man vowing revenge over the bodies of his sons, killed by shelling in Daraa this morning:
1205 GMT: Libya. Libya has arrested an Australian lawyer from the International Criminal Court for trying to pass “dangerous” documents to Seif al-Islam Qaddafi, detained son of the former leader Muammar Qaddafi, the ICC’s Libyan representative has said.
-“During a visit (to Seif on Friday), the lawyer tried to deliver documents to the accused, documents that have nothing to do with his case and that represent a danger to the security of Libya,” Ahmed al-Jehani said.
The lawyer, named as Melinda Taylor, was part of a four-member ICC delegation that received permission from Libya’s chief prosecutor to visit Qaddafi in Zintan, southwest of Tripoli. Jehani said she is “under house arrest in Zintan, not in prison,” and is being questioned by the authorities.
Qaddafi has been in custody in Zintan since his arrest on 19 November.
Renewed fighting has erupted in Kufra in southern Libya on Saturday between members of the Toubou minority and Government forces, with unconfirmed reports that at least five people were killed.
Tribal chief Issa Abdelmajid said the Toubou quarter was shelled from 3 a.m. (0100 GMT) by the Libya Shield Brigade, former insurgents under Government control. Abdelmajid said at least five of his people were killed and 10 wounded, and that a number of houses in the quarter had been burned.
Brigade commander Wissam Ben Hmid confirmed the fighting, saying his men had responded to a Toubou attack on one of their checkpoints. He said three of his men had been wounded.
In February, clashes pitting the Toubou against the rival Zwei ethnic group in Kufra killed more than 100 people and displaced half the population, according to UN figures.
Introducing restrictive or forceful measures clearly will not foster (peace) and will only aggravate the already difficult atmosphere....Our logic is that it is not necessary now to apply additional pressure, to introduce sanctions or use the threat of force.
Al Jazeera has broadcast a video showing some of the 11 Lebanese Shia pilgrims abducted in Syria on 22 May.
“We are guests of the Syrian rebels, and God willing we will return to our country,” one of the pilgrims said. Another condemned the massacre of Houla “which was perpetrated by the forces of darkness", while yet a third declared support “for the Syrian people” and called on the Lebanese people “to rise against injustice".
Toward the end of the video, a statement by the captors said “the abductees will be released after the civil state in Syria reviews their case, following the establishment of a democratic parliament, and, due to the current circumstances, they might be handed over to one of the neighboring countries".
1042 GMT: Bahrain. A man waves a Bahraini flag amid tear fired by police on Friday --- security forces used the gas to disperse mass protests in areas such as the Budaiya Highway:
A clash between police and protesters:
1008 GMT: Syria. Blogger Razan Ghazzawi has been presented this year's Human Rights Defenders at Risk award by the Dublin-based Front Line Defenders Foundation.
Ghazzawi is currently on trial before a military court, charged with "possessing prohibited materials with the intent to disseminate them". Her colleague Dlshad Othman, who had to leave Syria two months ago for his security, accepted the award on Ghazzawi's behalf.
Ghazzawi said in a statement that the award was for all citizen journalists "who died trying to tell the world what's happening in Syria, when the traditional media have failed to do so".
Ghazzawi and female colleagues were recently released after arrest during a raid on the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression. Five other members, including director Mazen Darwish, are still held incommunicado.
The opposition Syrian National Council is holding a two-day meeting in Istanbul, Turkey to choose a new President, following the resignation of Burhan Ghalioun. Abdulbaset Sieda, a Kurdish candidate, is likely to be chosen by consensus.
Anita McNaught of Al Jazeera English reports:
Thousands of Egyptians filled Tahrir Square on Friday with fury building amid fears that the punishment meted out to their ousted president might not stand and that the vote to choose his successor might in fact be part of a slow but unmistakable re-emergence of authoritarianism.
Many in the square turned their anger and suspicion on one another.
As the sun set, men began gathering in tense knots, questioning one another’s commitment to the revolution as they argued and shouted over how to defeat Ahmed Shafik, a former military commander made prime minister last year just before Hosni Mubarak relinquished nearly 30 years of power.
At one point, some men’s attention shifted to a group of a few dozen women who were protesting several public sexual attacks in the square over the last several days. Some pelted the women with stones and glass bottles, sending the women and the men supporting them into side streets in a chaotic panic.
0630 GMT: Syria. Activists, including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, are claiming that at least 12 people were killed by fire from the Syrian military in Daraa overnight. Among the dead are eight women and an entire family.
0510 GMT: Syria. For months, there has been fighting in the suburbs of Damascus, with bloodshed and sustained regime operations in areas like Douma. Last night, however, the clashes reached the capital itself, with firefights in the streets of the Mezzeh district.
EA's James Miller and Josh Moss summarised the impact:
This FSA attack will draw the Syrian Army into the city, forcing it to commit tanks and armored vehicles, as well as large numbers of troops into the heart of the Syrian capital. If the situation is bad enough, the army may also have to use artillery in the suburbs. This will cost the Assad government civilian lives, disrupt commerce and weaken the confidence of the ruling regime and its supporters. This attack will also likely cost Assad soldiers, both through casualties and defections, not to mention the costs of fuel and ammunition that the constant redistribution of forces costs the military. After this spate of fighting, the Free Syrian Army will likely return to their lives in and around the city, leaving the Syrian Army to spend the next weeks making arrests, an increasingly brutal crackdown which will only strengthen the opposition in and around the capital.
The Damascus fighting overtook other news on the day, notably the widespread anti-regime protests throughout the country and the visit of United Nations observers --- after they were blocked for more than 24 hours --- to the site of Wednesday's mass killings in al-Qubair. The scene confirmed the atrocity, in which at least 78 people are believed to have died, with the smell of burnt flesh in the air and body parts scattered around the village, even though the corpses themselves had been removed.