Video reportedly showing Free Syrian Army fighters engaged in combat in the Arqoub district of Aleppo (map)
Around 100 people have been wounded in the clashes, as gunmen in the Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Alawite rivals in Jebel Mohsen continued to exchange gun and grenade fire, despite deployment by Lebanese troops.
0025 GMT: Syria. Back from a vacation break to find the Local Coordination Committees reporting 230 people killed by security forces, including 104 in Damascus and its suburbs --- notably from the shelling and regime attack on Moudamiyeh --- 42 in Aleppo Province, and 32 in Daraa Province.
1901 GMT: Syria. We've been on the road most of the day, with Scott Lucas in Georgia and James Miller giving talks on EA and the Arab Uprisings in Massachusetts, but it's still been a very bloody day.
According to the latest death toll by the LCC, 183 people have been killed today by regime forces:
- 59 in Damascus and its suburbs, most in Moudamiyeh (map)
- 42 in Aleppo
- 19 in Daraa province
- 12 in Deir Ezzor, including an entire family from Mohamiedeh
- 9 in Homs
- 3 in Hama
- 2 in Lattakia
- 1 in Idlib.
There does appear to be some confusion at the LCC (perhaps translation issues), so these numbers could change. The Guardian also notes that in Moudamiyeh, west of Damascus, dozens of bodies have been found in the basement of a single home after the city was shelled and ground forces moved into the area:
The Local Coordination Committees activist group reports:
"About 40 bodies of people, who were executed, were found in the basement of a building near Omar mosque at the main street."
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says:
"Dozens of bodies were found in a basement owned by al-Katkoot on the main road of Mouadamiyeh; the bombardment on the town has continued and there are reports that many have been killed and wounded during a funeral procession."
These reports cannot be independently verified by the Guardian.
1505 GMT: Syria. Many areas of Daraa province have reportedly been rocked by shelling today. Citizen-uploaded videos help tell the tale.
This first video was reportedly taken in Malaiha el Garbiah (map), claiming to show extensive damage done to several buildings today, the result of shelling. The audio and the piece of paper held by the cameraman help verify the location and the date:
The activist ANA network provides this video, with subtitles, claiming to show a helicopter bombarding Dael, Daraa (map). A video claims to show a family crying over the body of a young child, killed in today's violence.:
Smoke rises above Al Harak (map), as gunfire or explosions echo in the distance. The audio and the sign confirm the date and claimed location:
All these reports match, generally, the pattern described today by the Local Coordinating Committees and many activists on various social networks.
1442 GMT: Syria. Last week, the National Coordination Committee, a major Syrian opposition group, released a statement calling for a ceasefire, the releasing of all prisoners and hostages, and a political dialogue between the Syrian opposition and the regime. The argument made was that the country had already suffered enough on account of the insurgency and the regime's crackdown against it.
Today, the Syrian National Council, the dominant opposition leadership group, has condemned the NCC statements, saying that they blame the victim and they break ranks with the consensus of the opposition:
It was interesting to see that the initiative by the National Coordination Committee clearly failed to condemn the regime's barbaric crimes and massacres throughout Syria. It did not hold the regime and its leaders responsible for all the bloodshed, approximately 30,000 martyrs, tens of thousands of injured, and hundreds of thousands of detainees. It even went further to talk about the "two sides" of the crisis that are equal in terms of the use of force, detention, kidnapping, and obstruction of the delivery of food and medical aid. No Arab or international initiative did this.
They do this while the regime escalates its barbaric crimes by terrifying shelling of innocent cities. On August 15 the Azaz massacre killed approximately 100 civilians. On August 16 the Aleppo massacres killed approximately 90 civilians lined up to buy bread. This initiative equates the victim with the murderer and holds them equally responsible. It is an attempt to demoralize the revolutionaries and the people by saying that the revolution "is still far from a decisive victory."
The SNC considers this initiative of the National Coordination Committee a violation of the national consensus agreed upon in the opposition meeting in Cairo on 2-3 July. It is a retreat from the most important article that calls for the removal of the regime and its head and the refusal to deal with him and for supporting the Free Syrian Army and the people's resistance. The initiative gives the regime more time to stay in power while the entire people of Syria absolutely rejected this by continuing to protest for seventeen consecutive months.
The SNC considers any retreat by the National Coordination Committee from the Cairo document including the National Pact and the transitional period document a drift from the rest of the Syrian opposition forces toward such sides that backed and offered initiatives to save the regime as Russia and Iran. Our people will have a say about this and other initiatives that attempt to hijack the Syrian people's revolution and undermine its accomplishments on the way to reclaim its freedom and dignity.
1426 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordinating Committees report that 69 people have been killed already today:
including 5 children and 3 women, 30 martyrs were reported in Damascus and it's suburbs including 6 bodies were found in Qadam area and the majority of the rest were in Moadamieh, 18 in Daraa most of them in Hrak, 11 in Deir Ezzor including an entire family from Mahemdieh, 5 in Aleppo, 2 in Homs, 2 in Lattakia and 1 in Idlib.
1st, a disclaimer about the source. The Local Coordinating Committees of Syria are an activist network based inside and outside of Syria. They categorize and record the daily death toll for the VDC, but their numbers are almost always a mix of insurgents and civilians, and never include regime forces. Syrian State media has also stopped recording the deaths of regime forces.
Looking at the report itself, the focus of the violence appears to be on the major road that runs from Damascus to Daraa, in al Harak (map) and in Moudamyah (map). The pattern shows an intensification in violence, probably sparked by an increased activity of Free Syrian Army insurgents in both provinces. However, most of the deaths are still civilians, killed by gunfire or by shelling, often in retaliatory attacks by the Syrian military.
This pattern matches not only LCC reports, but many other activist and non-activist sources.
1204 GMT: Syria. Robert Fisk has published a report from a different point of view, as he's been embedded with the Syrian army in Aleppo. There, the Syrian military believes it has the upper hand, and the General boasts that he can retake all of Aleppo province in 20 days.
One of the more interesting observations Fisk makes is, perhaps ironically, about the weapons that the Syrian insurgents are using:
As I prowled around the weapons – all captured within the past week, according to the Syrian officers – I found sticks of Swedish explosives in plastic covers, dated February 1999 and manufactured by Hammargrens, whose office address was printed as 434-24 Kingsbacka in Sweden; the words "made in USA" was also marked on each stick.
There was: a Belgian rifle, an FN from the town of Herstal, manufacturer's code 1473224; a set of hand grenades of uncertain provenance numbered HG 85, SM8-03 1; a Russian sniper scope; a 9mm Spanish-made pistol – model 28 1A – manufactured by a Star Echeverria SA Eibar Espana; an ancient automatic rifle; a Soviet sub-machine-gun of 1948 vintage; a mass of Russian rocket-propelled grenades and launchers; and box after box of medical supplies.
From the soldiers perspective they are not there to kill civilians but to liberate the city of Aleppo from "terrorists."
1137 GMT: Syria. The LCC reports that Ma'araat Misreen, in Idlib province (map), has been heavily shelled and attacked from the air today. What's interesting about the report is that small towns like this are rarely bombed this heavily unless there is an imminent military action. Also, only 6 days ago the Assad military lost a significant amount of firepower in a series of Free Syrian Army ambushes in this area.
1116 GMT: Syria. This video shows the body of Japanese journalist Mika Yamamoto who was killed yesterday in Aleppo. The video, with English subtitles, also shows a statement from the Free Syrian Army brigade who has possession of the body. According to the FSA, Yamamoto was killed by regime gunfire. The insurgents said that all journalists were welcome in Syria, and the FSA could help them get in, but once inside they were responsible for their own protection. Also, another message was clear - the nations that sent the journalists are also responsible for their fate.
We posted this video late last night, but due to the late hour we did not have a translation available until now.
Yamamoto's colleague also reports that she was killed by gunfire from Assad soldiers (see update 1000 GMT).
James Miller retakes today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas, who is on vacation, for making updates this morning.
1052 GMT: Syria. Earlier this morning we posted a separate feature, based on journalist Martin Chulov's Twitter messages, of the situation in Aleppo. Now the Guardian reporter has spoken to Australian radio:
The grinding misery just seems to pile on. The artillery barrage, the air-strikes --- especially in the south-west of the city --- are particularly intense. So is the fighting there.
We did see yesterday, for the first time in this 18 month conflict that I've seen it, a number of foreign jihadis had arrived in Aleppo at the frontlines. They were standing nearby ready to enter, they were very well armed, they didn't want to know us. The only questions that we got in replies to greetings to them were, "Are you Muslims?"
And so they were heading deep into the frontlines, they were being, I guess nervously welcomed by the Syrian rebels there who knew that the fact that they are brave and determined fighters but they also propose a potential problem in this dynamic in that they are looking to run their own race, they aren't really receptive to Syrian rebel leadership and this is something that will play out in the next week or so --- how will the foreign Jihadi contribution change the dynamic of the frontline fighting in Aleppo?....
They were open with the rebels about where they've come from; they were from everywhere, they were Pakistanis, there were Saudis, there were guys from Senegal, they were Uzbekistanis, Chechens and an Algerian that we saw as well.
1038 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees report that the Damascus suburb of Moadamiyeh, shelled heavily on Monday, has been attacked from the ground this morning: "Regime forces storm the city from four directions, accompanied by intense gunfire with many shells landing on houses."
Earlier, it was reported that seven people who were slain in Gaziantep on Monday had been identified.
Three of the victims were children.
A truck was parked by a police station and explosives detonated remotely, striking two buses and a car. The Kurdish insurgency PKK are suspected of responsibility.
1000 GMT: Syria. Japanese journalist Kazutaka Sato has said that fellow reporter Mika Yamamoto was apparently shot and killed by regime forces: "We saw a group of people in camouflage fatigues coming toward us. They appeared to be government soldiers. They started random shooting. They were just 20, 30 metres away or even closer."
The group was attacked in the Suleimaniya district of Aleppo on Monday.
Gunmen in the Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Alawites in Jebel Mohsen exchanged gun and grenade fire in sporadic fighting, despite the presence of Lebanese army troops. An army statement said soldiers raided buildings used by gunmen and "retaliated swiftly against sources of gunfire", with five troops wounded and another five, including an officer, hurt on Tuesday by a hand grenade lobbed at an army base.
Earlier this year several people were killed in fighting in Tripoli between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
0910 GMT: Bahrain. The Gulf Daily News puts out the line on last Friday's slaying of 16-year-old Hussan Alhadad: "Police were forced to defend themselves when petrol bombs rained down on them during an attack in Muharraq, it was revealed yesterday. During the melee, a 16-year-old boy died from stray bird shot."
The newspaper quotes Special Investigations Unit head Nawaf Abdulla Hamza, "Police received information of rioting in Muharraq on Friday and patrols were sent to deal with them. They attacked passers-by and pelted police vehicles with Molotov cocktails. Officers had to deal with them to restore order, which resulted in the youth's death after being shot by a pellet gun."
A march in Sitra for another teenager, Ali Alshaikh, who was slain a year ago at the end of Ramadan:
0530 GMT: Syria. Monday saw 150 new deaths, many of them in the Damascus and Daraa Provinces, pointing to intensifying conflict in the south of the country. Word of Free Syrian Army attacks in and around Damascus soon gave way to news that the suburbs, both to the east and to the west, were being heavily shelled.
But on Tuesday, the headlines are likely to be focused on Aleppo, particularly on a woman named Mika Yamamoto, a Japanese journalist who was killed, perhaps by a sniper. Three more journalists have gone missing, including Bashar Fahmi, in circumstances that may be related to Yamamoto's death.
This makes Monday one of the darkest days yet for journalists who are covering Syria --- and that is really saying something.
Our coverage will begin again in a few hours. Stay tuned, and please leave comments, or new information, below.