Saturday night protest in Morocco (see 0714 GMT)
The LCC reports that of 45 slain in Damascus and its suburbs, many were members of the Free Syrian Army in the area of Kisweh.
2015 GMT: Syria. A tribute by Syrian TV to Yara Salem, one of three journalists of the pro-regime Al-Ikhbariya channel who were abducted near Damascus last week:
1925 GMT: Syria. The head of the opposition Syrian National Council has called on international powers to impose a no-fly zone in border areas to protect civilians: "There must be special protection. The numbers of martyrs are increasing and destruction too. If the country keeps going this way, then we are heading to a catastrophe."Asked who will impose the no-fly zone, Sieda said: "We leave it to the international community."
1705 GMT: Egypt. Back from a break to find the surprising news that President Morsi has ordered the retirement of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the Minister of Defense and head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces.
General Mohamed el-Assar, the new Deputy Minister of Defense, insisted, "The decision was based on consultation with the field marshal and the rest of the military council."
Morsi said Tantawi and Chief of Staff Sami Enan, also ordered to retire, would become advisers. He also forced the Air Force, Air Defense and Navy commanders to step down.
Morsi replaced Tantawi with Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and announced that he has selected senior judge Mahmoud Mekki as the country’s Vice President.
Morsi also nullified a Constitutional declaration, issued by the military before he was elected, that curbed the powers of the presidency and gave the military the right to pass laws amid a court-ordered suspension of Parliament this spring.
Rajab is currently serving a three month sentence for Twitter messaages (see 0643GMT entry) deemed insulted to the Prime Minister.
Salman and Humaidan, both from Sitra, were shot by security forces on 15 March 2011, Salman whilst returning from work and Humaidan en route to buy lunch. Both were taken to Salmaniya Medical Complex with series eye injuries. Ali is now blind in one eye and Jaffer is almost completely blind.
When the military took over Salmaniyah, the two men were arrested and allegedly tortured. They shared a prison cell and were both sentenced to two years by a military court.
On Tuesday, the final verdicts are expected in more than 50 cases, including those of 13 leading activists and political figures, such as Abdulhadi AlKhawaja and Ibrahim Sharif, accused of plotting to overthrow the regime.
"Brigadier General Ibrahim al-Jabawi has crossed into Jordan. He will announce his defection on al-Arabiya television later today," an official said from Amman.
The ministers were due to consider the status of the country amid the appointment of a new Arab League/U United Nations envoy to Syria to replace Kofi Annan, who resigned earlier this month.
Annan's six-point peace plan, put forth in April, is effectively dormant amid fighting in Syria and the restriction of UN observers to their hotels.
No new date has been set for the Arab League gathering, although there is a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation this week in Saudi Arabia.
0925 GMT: Syria. Journalist Jenan Moussa, who left Aleppo this weekend and is now in Turkey, has spoken to the BBC about "hours and hours of shelling, hundreds of shells" by regime forces on insurgent-held sections of the city:
0749 GMT: Syria. A Free Syrian Army fighter sings about this week's "liberation" of Kafranbel in Idlib Province from regime forces:
Rights groups, trade unionists, and the February 20 movement called for the demonstrations, which brought out about 1000 people in Casablanca, Morocco's largest city. Around 300 people gathered near the main boulevard in Rabat, the capital. A protest of around 100 people in Meknès ended in violence when protesters were beaten by police, according to an activist.
Other demonstrations, of up to 200 people, were reported in the central city of Marrakesh, Tangier, the port city on Morocco's north coast, Tetouan, and El Jadida.
Several individuals had filed lawsuits accusing the newspaper of “fueling sedition” and “harming the President through phrases and wording punishable by law".
Al-Dustour, a tabloid owned by a Christian businessman, has been fiercely critical of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood while showing strong support for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
0703 GMT: Syria. Reporters Without Borders has expresed its grave concern over the fate of a three-person crew from the pro-regime TV station al-Ikhbariya and their driver, missing since they were seized on Friday by an unknown group after a clash between the Syrian army and insurgents in the Damascus suburb of al-Tal.
0657 GMT: Egypt. A headline in Ahram Online reveals why the leadership in Cairo has been so eager to welcome and visit counterparts in Gulf States, rather than accepting the repeated invitation of Iran to lead an "Islamic Awakening": "Qatar's Emir Leaves $2 Billion 'Deposit' to Egypt after Meeting President Morsi".
0650 GMT: Syria. Martin Chulov of The Guardian writes a lengthy first-hand account of a Sunni insurgent leader, Omar Othman pardoning a captured member of Syrian forces, 1st Lieutenant Darid Barakat, and allowing him to return to his village:
"When was the last time you saw your wife?" Omar asked. Barakat managed the words "five months ago" before grief overcame him. As he sobbed into his hands, a young rebel brought him a glass of water and a napkin.
"You can go and see them," the sheikh said.
"God bless you all," Barakat said while wiping his eyes. "100 salaams (peace)."
"Can you take me to my village?" The question evoked laughter from all the five rebels sitting nearby. Barakat's family home is in the centre of the Alawite heartland, near Latakia on the coast.
"We will take you to the countryside and you can make your way from there," Omar replied.
"It isn't always like this elsewhere," said Omar after Barakat had left. "But they are military men and they must be treated well. We must show that we are better than what they were.
"Hopefully this small step will lead to something more. But I'm not sure."
0643 GMT: Bahrain. Nabeel Rajab, leading activist and head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, is back in court today for what could be the final verdict is his appeal of a three-month prison sentence for his Twitter messages.
As well as discussing the current charges against him, the letter, written by Rajab's wife Sumaya and his two children, Adam and Malak, describes the impact that the activist's work has had on his family:
Bahraini security forces attacked his home on several occasions and fired tear gas inside the house in order to put pressure on him and his family. His family, including his children and elderly mother, have suffered from breathing problems more than once as a result of the tear gas. What happened inside the house was documented by video recordings and through international statements issued on these occasions. The regime also made it difficult for Nabeel to work and ruined his business. Our children were harassed in school and I, his wife, was sacked from my job after a campaign of harassment so that the regime could make sure that Nabeel’s only income was stopped. Nabeel has been arrested and interrogated on several occasions for his criticism of the regime and also for his calls for peaceful protests.
The letter culminates with a plea to the international community to put pressure on the Bahrain regime to release Nabeel, closing with the following note of warning about the consequences of Western silence:
We hope that you will take our plea into consideration and that you realize that the silence of some Western governments about the gross human rights violations in Bahrain means that the Bahraini people will lose trust in you and in principles you talk about. The people of Bahrain cannot understand the silence of the international community about the violations taking place in Bahrain while it is moving to resolve violations in other areas of the world.Freedom and respect for human rights are the only path to building a flourishing future for all people without any exception, and we in Bahrain long to build a state based on the foundations of justice and equality for all Bahraini people without any exception.
0638 GMT: Bahrain. The February 14 Youth Coalition issued a rare English-language press release on Saturday --- a clear indication that they are seeking to reach Western, especially American, eyes.
The press release follows last week's unconfirmed rumours, carried by some media outlets, that Russia is seeking to discuss Bahrain's situation and the increasing interest of State-supported broadcaster Russia Today in the repression in Bahrain, often using it as a means to critique the US as a supporter of the AlKhalifa regime.
The press release in full:
Amid constantly changing global and regional events, Russia has clearly distinguished itself positively toward the revolution and people of Bahrain.
In this regard, we highly appreciate Russia's latest political stance and media coverage, which we consider very supportive to the struggle our people began since February 14th last year; in contrast to the biased stance of the colonial powers who have chosen to side with the autocratic and illegitimate regime of Al-Khalifa; the regime that was condemned by most participants in the latest Human Rights and Democracy summit in Geneva. We hope Russia’s respectful and humanitarian role expands and we encourage neutral nations to take similar stance against Al-Khalifa and Al-Saud crimes.
Activists in the Damascus suburb of al-Tal said at least 11 people were killed in fierce fighting on Saturday when Syrian forces mounted an armored attack to try and regain the area from insurgents.
0610 GMT: Syria. Speaking after meetings in Istanbul with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and elements of the Syrian opposition on Saturday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that a joint working group had been set up between the US and Turkish militaries, intelligence services, and diplomats to co-ordinate their approah to the Syrian conflict.
But what exactly are those plans? Al Jazeera English chose to headline Clinton's preparation for "the horrible event that chemical weapons [are] used", while The Guardian preferred emphasis on consideration of a no-fly zone even though the Secretary of State said no more than "it was on the table...but no decisions have been taken yet".
Even those clear steps that were announced leave questions. For example, Clinton said $25 million in aid to insurgents, mostly in communications equipment, had been distributed to insurgents. However, that declaration --- complementing Britain's announcement on Saturday that it would provide £5 million (about $8 million) --- does not cover the range of covert assistance which the US, Britain, European partners, Turkey, and Arab States are providing.
Indeed, Clinton's statement was no more than confirmation of the open secret, emerging this spring, that US and Turkish officials were already working at a crisis centre near the Turkish-Syrian border to consider and implement assistance to the insurgents. Whether that aid comes into the open, and in what form, is still to be determined.