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Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Surge in Protest, A Constant Shelling

Saturday's funeral march for Hussam Alhadad in Bahrain

See also Bahrain Special: The Killing of Hussam AlHaddad and the Unanswered Questions
Bahrain Interview: Activist Said Yousif on His Beating and Detention
Saturday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: "This is What Aleppo Has Become"

2020 GMT: Syria. The most interesting reports from the LCC today involve Lattakia, Syria's premier port city which is often considered the heart of Assad's power and from where the President's family hails. The city is majority Sunni, with a sizable population of Alawites, Christians, and other minorities, and the rural areas are even more diverse.

We have seen protests and violence in the mountains far to the east, but it has been a long time since there has been this much violence in the city itself. According to some activists, there were post-prayer protests today, disrupted by security forces. According to the LCC, the Qunainis district (map), in the centre of the city, was stormed by security forces who sealed off the neighborhood and made many arrests.

The LCC also reports violence in the Maroniate village to the east (map). The village was reportedly shelled, and this video claims to show damage to the local mosque:

1955 GMT: Syria. Back from a weekend break to find that it has been another bloody day in Syria. According to the Local Coordinating Committees, 135 people have been killed by regime forces today.

47 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its Suburbs, 40 in Daraa, 15 in Aleppo, 15 in Idlib, 11 in Homs, 4 in Lattakia, 1 in Deir Ezzor, 1 in Hassakeh, and 1 in Hama.

First, a note on the source. The LCC is a network of activists operating inside and outside Syria. They serve as the information clearinghouse for the opposition, as they reportedly verify their information before posting. Their numbers populate the VDC database, a record of the names, locations, and circumstances of peoples' deaths in this crisis. The LCC does not record regime casualties, as it has no method to verify those casualties. The Syrian state media has also stopped posting fatality numbers.

Looking at the numbers more closely, what's startling is that many of the casualties in Damascus and Daraa Provinces were not caused by shelling, the common cause of fatalities in recent weeks. Instead, many deaths were caused by gunfire, as demonstrators returned to the streets for Eid prayers. But many of the reports also talk about "clashes" between the Free Syrian Army and the Assad military in these two regions.

It is just one day, and Eid at that, but if this pattern continues tomorrow it could be a sign that Damascus and Daraa are once again preparing to take the fight directly to the Assad regime.

1549 GMT: Egypt. Hundreds came to the iconic Tahrir Square in Cairo to say Eid prayers this morning. A photo galley from Ahram Online captures the cross generational mix of citizens present. Ahram adds that regligious celebration, rather than poiltics, was perhaps foremost on people's minds, noting that "a political speech was served to a seemingly apolitical audience". This video captures the whole event:

Today was also the first time in a decade where Eid prayers were said at Cairo's historic Citadel mosque. Security threats have kept it shut over Eir for the past ten years.

1520 GMT: Yemen. EA's John Horne reports:

Nasser Ali Mansur, the commander of a pro-army militia was killed today, and six others wounded, after a suicide bomber blew himself up. This follows the death of 19 soldiers yesterday, killed after a rocket attack and suspected suicide bombing at government intelligence headquarters in Aden. Both attacks have been blamed on Al Qaeda.

Amidst such violence, earlier in the capital Sana'a, thousands reportedly came out into the streets to pray at the start of Eid. Later, they began to chant:

1507 GMT: Bahrain. Lots of activists on Twitter are sharing this video. According to the reports, this was taken in Al Eker village, and shows police beating a protester, then blood on the wall. The video has an edit halfway through, so the two clips, the beating and the wall, are separate clips.

While this appears to be the same (or a very similar) wall, we cannot confirm how that blood got there. However, looking at other witness accounts, there are reports of teargassing and beating in AlEker earlier today, and teargas firing can clearly be heard in the video. Still, the video is unconfirmed.

Other opposition media accounts have tweeted photos of the bloody wall that appears in the video.

1449 GMT: Syria. President Bashar al Assad has made a rare public appearance today, attending a televised Eid prayer service marking the end of Ramadan:

In attendance were Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem and Prime Minister Wael al-Halki. He is the replacement for Riyad Hijab, a Sunni who has joined the opposition to Assad since his defection was announced on August 6.

James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Big thanks to both Scott Lucas, who is on the road, and John Horne for covering this morning.

1354 GMT: Bahrain. On the first day of Eid, the mood is one of sorrow, not celebration, across large parts of Bahrain following the death of 16 year old Hussam AlHaddad, killed by police late Friday night. (See our separate feature, Bahrain Special: The Killing of Hussam AlHaddad and the Unanswered Questions). Leading opposition party AlWefaq has announced "a state of mourning" for three days, asking Bahrainis to "abandon all joyful celebrations during Eid" out of respect for Hussam. Late last night, a candlelit vigil was held in the capital Manama, as well as in villages such as this one in Barbar:

Mohammed AlMaskati, President of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, also reports that yesterday some prisoners in Dry Dock Prison have started a hunger strike "to protest the killing".

1318 GMT: Sudan. A helicopter carrying a 32 member government delegation crashed in Talodi this morning, killing everybody on board. Makki Balayela, a "leading member" of Sudan's Peace and Justice Party, along with Ghazi al-Sadeq, minister of endowment, were amongst those killed.

1250 GMT. Iraq. A senior Sunni cleric has been "badly hurt" and at least one citizen killed after a bomb struck a convey in western Baghdad this morning. Sheik Mahdi al-Sumaidaie had just finished leading prayers marking the start of Eid at a nearby mosque when the blast struck. The Associated Press adds that:

Al-Sumaidaie has sided with the government against Sunni extremists. Earlier this year, he called for a unified religious authority to bridge the gap between Iraq’s Sunnis and Shiites. Insurgents often target Sunni clerics seen as working closely with the Shiite-led government.

Police confirmed the attack, although there were conflicting reports about the number of casualties. Two police officers and a hospital official reported that multiple people were killed and wounded.

0846 GMT. Syria. Charles Levinson of The Wall Street Journal profiles one of the many makeshift governments arising in insurgent-held areas:

One morning this week, Sheik Tawfeeq Shehab Eddin replaced his AK-47 with a Bic pen and took up his post behind a metal desk.

Mr. Shehab Eddin is one of the four rural commanders of the Tawheed Division, an Islamist-dominated umbrella force that is leading Syrian rebels' fight around the country's largest city, Aleppo, against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Their division has driven pro-Assad forces from much of the Aleppan countryside and some of Aleppo. On Friday, division fighters fought regime tanks near the city's airport.

The regime's pullout from much of the countryside last month has left the Tawheed Division as the area's army, government and police. That is why on Wednesday, Mr. Shehab Eddin and his aides spent some 14 hours hashing out questions about their next deployment to the front line in Aleppo, scrambling to defuse a flare-up with a neighboring Kurdish village and mediating petty disputes between villagers.

0756 GMT. Syria. President Assad has been shown on State TV at prayers in Damascus on Sunday, his first appearance in public after a bombing last month that killed four of his top officials.

Assad was shown praying at the Rihab al-Hamad Mosque to mark the start of Eid al-Fitr, the three-day holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Assad last appeared in public was on 4 July when he gave a speech in Parliament.

0730 GMT. Libya At least two people have been killed in a double car bomb attack in the capital Tripoli.

One blast took place at dawn near the former military academy for women, while the other struck close to the Minstry of Interior.

The attack is the first deadly bombing since the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi last year.

Tripoli's head of security, Col Mahmoud Sherif, said the explosion outside the military academy left two people dead and four or five injured. No casualties were reported from the other bomb.

Sherif blamed Qaddafi supporters for the attacks.

0350 GMT: Syria. The prominent chatter on the Internet on Saturday was over the unconfirmed reports of the defection of Vice President Farouk al-Shara, but the confirmed story was the airstrikes and shelling of cities and towns across the country.

Fighting continued in sections of Aleppo, but the biggest share of the 172 deaths reported by the Local Coordination Committees was in Damascus and its suburbs, with 70 victims.

0340 GMT: Bahrain. We begin this morning in the Kingdom with the resurgence of protest and conflict, with no prospect of resolution.

The catalyst for Saturday's marches was the killing by police of 16-year-old Hussam Alhadad on Friday night amid clashes in Muharraq. Family and activists claim Alhadad was beaten and shot; authorities, without commenting directly on that assertion, asserted that the teenager was among those throwing Molotov cocktails at security forces. A large funeral march on Saturday sided with the former explanation and used the occasion to denounce the monarchy.

Yesterday morning, EA's John Horne summarised the impact:

In a statement, opposition society Al Wefaq said, “Hussam is one of a long list of martyrs who have been killed on the path to freedom and rejecting of oppression. The injustice of the regime, who rule with an iron grip, has crossed all lines of what is tolerable.” 

Indeed, unless the Crown Prince --- seen as the moderate among the Royal Family --- makes a public statement about the incident and about this week's sentencing of activist Nabeel Rajab, reiterating his call for a tempering of police violence, I believe "dialogue" is now dead in the water for the forthcoming months. 


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