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Saturday
Aug182012

Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: "This is What Aleppo Has Become"

Saleh ed Dine in Aleppo in Syria on Friday

See also Syria Video Feature: Re-Visiting the Mass Killing in Houla
Friday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Almost 25,000 Dead as the United Nations Departs


1915 GMT: Syria. Claimed footage of a demonstration today in central Damascus:

1715 GMT: Bahrain. The funeral procession for Hussam Alhamad, killed overnight by police amid clashes in Muharraq:

1705 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees report that 160 people have been slain by security forces so far today, including 62 in Damascus and its suburbs, 29 in Deir Ez Zor Province, and 27 in Daraa Province.

Forty of the Damascus deaths were bodies found in the Tal area.

1605 GMT: Yemen. An insurgent suicide bombing in Aden has killed at least 14 soldiers and injured seven.

The attackers rammed an explosives-laden car into the intelligence headquarters and triggered a fire in the building, after they fought with guards and fired rockets into the gate.

1455 GMT: Bahrain. Pictures from the funeral of 16-year-old Hassan Alhadad, killed overnight by police:

1405 GMT: Syria. Activists have reported airstrikes and shelling by regime forces in and near Aleppo and in other areas.

The activists said fighting continued in Aleppo's neighbouroods of al-Fardos, al-Sukkari, Bustan al-Zahra, Kallasa, Salah Ed Dine, and the centre near Saad al-Allah al-Jabri's Square, while there was bombing of the town of Azaz, where at least 45 people died in an airstrike earlier this week.

In Damascus, there was fighting in the southern district of Tadamun. Shelling was reported in the eastern province of Deir Ez Zor, in Homs, and in the southern city of Herak.

1351 GMT: Egypt. Al Jazeera summarises growing difficulties with electricity outages and the consequent anger among Egyptians:

1344 GMT: Syria. Back from a Saturday break to find the Syrian opposition, Assad regime, and countries such as the US and Russia welcoming the appointment of Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi as the United Nations-Arab League envoy.

Brahimi replaces Kofi Annan, who failed to get agreement for his six-point plan, presented in April, for a cease-fire and political transition.

1022 GMT: Syria. Claims have again circulated that Vice President Farouk al-Shara has defected and have again been denied by Syrian authorities.

Today's report started with an Al Arabiya article based on a source in the Syrian National Council.

Earlier this week, al-Shara was said to have left the regime, but the defector was his cousin, a high-ranking military officer.

The Free Syrian Army is now correcting the report to say that the defection attempt may have failed.

1015 GMT: Bahrain. The claims continue around the death of 16-year-old Hussam Alhadad, allegedly beaten and shot by police overnight --- activists have posted video of the body showing the wounds in detail.

0955 GMT: Tunisia. In the third incident in three days, Salafist Islamists attacked the Bizerte music and theatre festival on Thursday evening with swords and sticks.

The Minister of Interior said five people were wounded before police dispersed the assailants with tear gas, arresting four of them. Some of those present complained that police waited an hour before intervening.

Earlier in the week, Salafists prevented an Iranian group from performing at a Sufi music festival in Kairouan, south of Tunis, saying their Shiite chanting amounted to a violation of Islamic values. On Tuesday, renowned Tunisian actor Lotfi Abdelli was prevented from performing his comedy act "100% Halal" by Islamists who had occupied the auditorium.

0905 GMT: Bahrain. Amid reports of the death of a teenager amid clashes (see 0625 GMT), authorities have released a video of a "terror attack against the police in Muharraq", claiming to show the use of Molotov cocktails by protesters:

0645 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees reports that 168 people were killed by security forces on Friday, including 45 in Aleppo Province, 40 in Damascus and its suburbs, 36 in Daraa Province, and 30 in Homs Province.

0625 GMT: Bahrain. A 16-year-old, Hussam Alhadad, has been killed amid overnight clashes with police.

Said Yousef of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said al-Hadad was beaten by security forces and died from his injuries. The Ministry of Interior claimed al-Hadad had attacked police with Molotov cocktails.

0515 GMT: Syria. We start this morning with a reflection, picking up James Miller's comment and a video of Aleppo (posted at the top of the entry), almost a month after clashes began between insurgents and regime forces:

This is Saleh ed Dine, an upper-middle class commercial district in Aleppo. This is the kind of neighbourhood you'd find near a major university in London, or Boston, filled with over-priced apartments, upper-class residents, students, coffee shops --- the kind of place that ranges from peaceful to bustling depending on the time of day.

In this video it is neither peaceful or bustling. The neighbourhood is more like hauntingly deserted, with the distant echo of war faintly heard in the background. It is the silence that is stunning. Periodic gunfire can be heard, then a helicopter which is later seen overhead.

Suddenly, however, a massive explosion, as a bomb or a shell lands too close to the camera.

After the excitement, the haunting stillness returns. This is what Aleppo has become.

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