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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: UN Envoy Annan Returns to Damascus

Protests in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, fired upon by security forces

See also Syria Audio Feature: "Assad's Latest Performance" --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24
Syria Video Feature: President Assad's Latest Interview "I Still Have Public Support"
Syria Feature: The Tour Guide Who Joined the Insurgency
Turkey Live Coverage (9 July): The Syria and Kurdistan Situations
Sunday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Annan "The Evidence Shows We Have Not Succeeded"

1818 GMT: Syria. Earlier we saw many reports of shells falling on the small town of Busrah al Harir, in Daraa province (map). Now, the LCC shares this video reportedly showing shells falling on the town:

1613 GMT: Syria. If you're willing to accept that 17,000 people have been killed so far in this conflict, that's more than 30 each day. As such, despite characterizing today as a "slow day," the LCC reports that 41 people have been killed today so far:

18 martyrs were reported in Idlib, 5 in Homs , 5 in Hama , 5 in Deir Ezzor, 3 in Damascus Suburbs and 1 in Daraa.

Most of those deaths are reported in Idlib, where the struggle between the opposition and the regime's military is perhaps most palpable. There has also been violence reported in nearly every region, another indication that even on a slow day the violence is not limited to a few hotspots. However, there are a flood of new reports from Daraa province, indicating a possible escalation there as well.

1556 GMT: Syria. EA's editor, Scott Lucas, has also been interview about today's developments. His assessment - Assad is displaying a total disconnect from what is happening in his country, the shabiha and the military are running rampant, the violence is spinning out of control - and things don't look like they'll improve anytime soon.

See also Syria Audio Feature: "Assad's Latest Performance" --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

1532 GMT: Syria. Rafif Jouejati, English-spokesperson for the Local Coordinating Committees of Syria, assesses both Bashar al Assad's recent interview (soo our separate feature) and the news of Kofi Annan's meeting with Assad, and his trip to Tehran.

1455 GMT: Syria. There has been a noticeable slowdown in intensity of the violence in Syria over the last few days, culminating today in what has, so far (knock on wood three times), been the calmest day in recent weeks. With nearly two weeks of unmatched victories by the Free Syrian Army, last week we began to see the regime strike back by retaking Khan Sheikhoun (map), a key crossroads in Idlib. In the last few, the Syrian regular army continued to reinforce positions around the capital, and conduct Navy drills. It appears that both sides are regrouping, and everyone is waiting for what happens next.

But that doesn't mean that nothing is happening. There are already signs that in Izaz, north of Aleppo near the border with Turkey (map), the fight for the control of the areas north of Syria's second most important city continues:

1418 GMT: Syria. So far today 30 people have been killed, according to the LCCS.

Though today the death toll have been relatively small, that's a rarity lately. The Guardian attempts to make sense of the over-all death toll since the start of the uprising last March:

More than 17,000 people have been killed in the Syria since the uprising began, according to a tally by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It told AP that among the 17,129 deaths are 11,897 civilians, 4,348 soldiers and 884 military defectors.

The Violation Documentation Centre, a tally maintained by activists in Syria, says there have 14,841 "martyrs" so far.

This total includes 1,310 "non-civilian" or rebel casualties, but it does not included deaths in the regular army.

But even these numbers are conservative. According to Syria Tracker, the death toll up through June 30th was 18,236. The report has a series of attachments, including additional charts, and spreadsheets containing the names, dates, and locations of each reported death. Click on the chart below to see a larger picture of the deaths, distributed by province and counter for each week:

1336 GMT: Egypt. The Supreme Constitutional Court has set up a showdown with President Morsi, reaffirming that last month's ruling to dissolve Parliament is final and binding.

On Sunday, Morsi reinstated the Parliament, elected this winter, and called for a vote for a new legislature within 60 days of the adoption of a Constitution.

The court had found that the elections were unconstitutional because they allowed parties to put forth candidates in seats reserved for "independents". Within days, the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces had issued decrees expanding its powers.

1331 GMT: Syria. United Nations envoy Kofi Annan said his talks with President Assad today were "constructive and candid": "We discussed the need to end the violence and ways and means of doing so. We agreed on an approach which I will share with the armed opposition."

Annan did not give details of the discussion, including next steps and the state of his six-point peace plan, but Iranian State media is claiming that the envoy --- who has called for the inclusion of the Islamic Republic in international discussions --- will go next to Tehran.

1248 GMT: Syria. Russia's RIA news agency reports that Moscow will not deliver Yak-130 fighter planes to Syria while the situation there remains "unresolved".

Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy director of the service for military co-operation, told journalists, "In the current situation talking about deliveries of airplanes to Syria is premature."

Russia reportedly signed an order to deliver 40 fighter-trainer jets at the end of last year.

1244 GMT: Bahrain. Video of the arrest of Nabeel Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, by masked officers today --- Rajab has been ordered to serve a three-month sentence for his messages on Twitter (see 1119 and 1140 GMT):

1154 GMT: Syria. It is not quite 3 p.m. in Syria, and news is often hours behind, but already the activist network LCCS says it has confirmed 26 deaths to far today:

15 martyrs were reported in Idlib, 5 in Homs, 3 in Damascus Suburbs, and 3 in Hama.

1140 GMT: Bahrain. The original tweet that has landed Nabeel Rajab in the crosshairs of the Bahraini legal system (Arabic) accused the people of Muharraq of having supported the Khalifa ruling family out of a desire for monetary gain. The sentence is particularly suspicious to some analysts based on the fact that the Bahraini regime has already given large tax credits and checks to the Bahraini populace that were specifically designed to quell dissent.

The Guardian provides even more context:

The judge said the time Rajab has already spent in jail would count towards the sentence, Rajab's lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi said. Jishi said Rajab would lodge an appeal and it was not clear if he would be taken to jail or remain free.

"Every day there are a thousand people insulting a thousand people, this isn't logical. Normally the charge of insult leads to just a fine. So for me it's a surprise," Jishi said.

1119 GMT: Bahrain. Promintent Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab has been sentenced to three months in jail for statements made on his Twitter feed. Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was arrested for sending a Tweet, in Arabic, to the people of the village of Muharraq, which the government said was defamatory.

1017 GMT: Syria. Syrian Foreign Minister Jihad Makdisi has set that President Assad and United Nations envoy Kofi Annan had a productive meeting, seeing the recent international conference in Geneva as "an important step to push the political process".

1009 GMT: Israel and Palestine. A committee appointed by the Israeli Government has recommended that West Jerusalem legalise dozens of unsanctioned West Bank settlement outposts, according to Alan Baker, a member of the panel.

Baker said the committee, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, also concluded that the West Bank is not occupied territory and therefore Israel has the legal right to settle it.

0951 GMT: Mali. The Washington Post explains how American covert operations were discovered in the north African country, beset by a coup, insurgency, and separatist movements:

In pre-dawn darkness, a ­Toyota Land Cruiser skidded off a bridge in North Africa in the spring, plunging into the Niger River. When rescuers arrived, they found the bodies of three U.S. Army commandos — alongside three dead women.

What the men were doing in the impoverished country of Mali, and why they were still there a month after the United States suspended military relations with its government, is at the crux of a mystery that officials have not fully explained even 10 weeks later....

The crash has provided a rare glimpse of elite U.S. commando units in North Africa, where they have been secretly engaged in counterterrorism actions against al-Qaeda affiliates.

The Obama administration has not publicly acknowledged the existence of the missions, although it has spoken in general about plans to rely on Special Operations forces as a cornerstone of its global counterterrorism strategy.

0942 GMT: Syria. A delegation led by Syrian dissident Michel Kilo is in Moscow for talks.

The head of the opposition Syrian National Council, Abdel Basset Sayda, will arrive in Russia later this week

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he told Kilo, "Russia is one of few, if not the only country which is working actively with the Syrian government and different opposition forces for the implementation of the Kofi Annan plan. I hope that your evaluation (of the situation) will be useful for us."

Kilo, a member of the National Committee for Democratic Change, said that, while he wanted a national dialogue, "The regime, alas, is not replying to our demands and is saying that we are not representatives of the Syrian people."

0935 GMT: Bahrain. Charges against eight men of possessing explosive materials have been dropped for that of "illegal gathering".

One defendant has also been charged with putting people's lives at risk by allegedly pouring oil on a road.

0840 GMT: Libya. With a final count in national assembly elections expected today, Mahmoud Jibril --- the leader of the National Forces Alliance --- has declared:

We extend an honest call for a national dialogue to come all together in one coalition, under one banner… to reach a compromise, a consensus on which the constitution can be drafted and the new government can be composed.

There was no loser and winner at all. Whoever is going to win, Libya is the real winner of those elections.

The NFA of Jibril, a prominent figure in the National Transitional Council during the uprising against the Qaddafi regime, is said to lead in the vote in the capital Tripoli and the second city Benghazi.

0548 GMT: Syria. Al Jazeera English posts an infographic on sanctions and their effect on Damascus.

0528 GMT: Kuwait. Protests by the Bedoon (stateless) community have entered a fourth day after 12 people were arrested on Friday, despite attempts at dispersal by riot police.

The demonstration is now in front of Kuwait University, demanding that top Bedoon students are enrolled.

0517 GMT: Saudi Arabia. We are keeping a close eye on developments in Eastern Province, where activists said two people died and more were injured when security forces fired on protests last night.

The demonstrations followed the shooting and arrest of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

0510 GMT: Syria. Having admitted on Saturday that his plan for a halt to violence and political resolution had not succeeded, United Nations envoy Kofi Annan is in Damascus for a third round of talks with President Assad. 

Annan and his staff did not give any details of the proposed discussions.

The Local Coordination Committees in Syria said 60 people were killed by security forces on Sunday, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that 36 regime troops had been slain.

Syrian State media has stopped reporting casualty figures among its forces.

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