Residents flee shelling in Aleppo in Syria on Tuesday
See also Libya Live Coverage: American Ambassador Among 4 Killed in Attack on US Consulate br>
Syria Feature: Assad's Useful Apologists br>
Bahrain Opinion: The Significance of the Detention and Treatment of Nabeel Rajab br>
Tuesday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Deaths and Executions on Both Sides
1618 GMT: Bahrain EA's John Horne reports:
A group of Human Rights organisations have written to US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton "asking her to suspend all US military aid to the government of Bahrain because of its human rights violations".
The letter brings attention to the US Leahy Law (Section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act) which states that:
No assistance shall be furnished under this Act or the Arms Export Control Act to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.
The NGO's cite a series of reports which they argue constitute "credible information", adding that "attacks by the police and other security forces on unarmed, non-violent, pro-democracy activists rise to the level of 'gross human rights violations,' particularly so when the attacks resulted in death.
The letter continues:
Consistent with Section 620M(d)(6), the United States must make efforts to ascertain which units engaged in the abuses documented in these public reports. If it is not possible to identify the specific unit that engaged in abuses, to ensure compliance with the mandate of Section 620M, the United States must suspend assistance to the overall unit known to have engaged in the abuse, in this case the BDF, Bahraini police or other security service. We believe that it would be inconsistent with U.S. law to continue assistance to the BDF, police or other security service knowing that units of those entities have engaged in abuses and that the perpetrators have not been brought to justice, even if the United States does not know which specific units are committing the abuses.
As you also know, the Leahy Law mandates that the U.S. government notify the government of Bahrain of any units that have been declared to be ineligible for U.S. assistance and offer assistance in bringing the individuals who committed human rights crimes to justice. We look forward to receiving your assurance that these steps—required by law—have been taken concerning Bahraini units engaging in assaults on unarmed civilian pro-democracy protestors.
1606 GMT: Syria. According to the Local Coordination Committees, at least 108 people have been killed today by the Assad regime, at least 20 of whom died in air strikes:
21 in Idlib most of them in Maret Noman,18 martyrs were reported in Deir Ezzor, most in Bokamal; 17 in Daraa, among them 12 unidentified bodies; 17 in Damascus and its Suburbs; 15 in Hama, most in Helfaya massacre; 10 in Aleppo; 6 in Homs; 1 in Hasakeh; and 1 in Banyas
The number is consistent with recent trends, but the geographical breakdown of that number is not. The numbers are more even, indicating escalation in Idlib, Daraa, and Hama provinces, some of which could already be predicted by our earlier reporting.
A sad prediction - these figures are a lagging indicator, and with this many reports of aerial bombing and shelling, expect that figure to rise.
Syrian rebels have killed at least 18 soldiers in the northwestern town of Saraqeb, in Idlib province, by setting off a car bomb outside a military position and then attacked it, according to a watchdog group.
Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the UK-based rights group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), said on Wednesday the details of the incident were still sketchy, and that he could not say whether the car bombing was a suicide attack.
"There were 70 to 100 soldiers there when the attack occurred" in Saraqeb, he said.
"Twenty soldiers escaped, and clashes are still going on."
What's interesting is that since early this morning we've been seeing evidence of a massive artillery, mortar, and aerial campaign against the town of Saraqeb. In context, these are likely reprisal attacks against the civilians in the wake of this FSA attack.
Saraqeb is on the strategic highway that runs from regime-occupied territory (Damascus, Homs, Hama) though Idlib, and on to Aleppo. The Assad military has proven to be very vulnerable to attacks on these highways because their movement on them, across FSA sympathetic territory, is predictable.
1536 GMT: Syria. We've been hearing many reports of increased activity in Daraa province. Videos have shown soldiers deploying in various cities, and on the highways, and tanks taking positions on hillsides. Now, a quick look at the LCC Facebook page, and there are reports of shelling in many cities and towns.
We're not the only ones that have noticed this. The New York Times picks up this video:
1325 GMT: Syria. In order to retake the Hanano military barracks, the Syrian Army has had to launch an offensive deep into the city, bringing tanks and troops into the center where they have been exposed to gunfire, snipers, IEDs, and RPG attacks. Today there are reports of fighting just north of the Hanano barracks, near the Arqoub roundabout and the industrial area just north of it (map). Matching those reports, this video reportedly shows an RPG attack against a piece of Assad armor - the vehicle appears to drive away after the blow:
These videos are both dated yesterday, but it's possible that they are misdated - they were uploaded today, and appear to show the same street (it's possible that this was yesterday, as fighting here has lasted for days, but our educated guess is that these are from today). In the first video, a Syrian tank moves into the frame and appears to fire. In the second, what is ikely an RPG hits the a tank - it's unclear if the vehicle survived the encounter:
On the other side of the city (map), fighting continues, as the army continues the efforts to push into FSA-controlled districts, and continues to be rebutted:
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other activist groups said the heavy fighting erupted at dawn Wednesday in the Nayrab area, about five kilometers from Aleppo International Airport.
The facility, which includes a military base, is widely used by the government to bomb rebel-held areas. Over the past several weeks, rebels have been attacking military airfields in an attempt to prevent them from being used for launching air strikes, while commercial facilities have been left alone.
Looking at the district on a map, it is isolated to the southeast of the city. This area has been attacked several times, but if this report is accurate, it could represent a renewed focus on the airport. It's also interesting that, for the most part, the insurgents appear to be dictating the areas where battles have been fought. Since late last week the focus has been fighting near the east-central Hanano military barracks (map). Both battles, however, have drawn the fighting to the east, and away from the embattled Salleh el Dine district to the west.
James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas for getting us started today.
1044 GMT: Syria. Both State media and the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights report that at least 18 soldiers have been killed in Saraqeb in Idlib Province by a car bomb and insurgent attack.Abdul Rahman said details on the incident were still sketchy, and he was unable to say whether the car bombing had been a suicide attac
Aydin Tufan Tekin and more than 20 Syrians were seized in retaliation for the capture of a relative by Syrian insurgents.
Earlier on Tuesday, a Lebanese army raid had freed four of the Syrians.
Among those removed from their posts was the head of the National Security Force, Ali al-Anisi, and Saleh's half-brother, Ali Saleh al-Ahmar, who was director of the office of the armed forces' top commander.
The two dismissed chiefs have been given posts as ambassadors at the foreign ministry, according to the decrees.
The head of military intelligence, Mujahid Ghoshaim, was also removed from his post.
Hadi removed Minister of Oil Hisham Sharaf, moving him to Higher Education, and promoted his deputy Ahmed Abdullah Dariss.
0949 GMT: Libya. We have moved today's news on Libya to a separate entry for Live Coverage, "American Ambassador Among 4 Killed in Attack on US Consulate".
Some of the refugees said they had been unable unable to register at the Reyhanli camp. One complained:
I have been staying on the border for two days; there is no food, no water. I have been going through difficult times. Nobody is helping us; we were desperate so we crossed to Turkey over the fences. We hitch-hiked and found a car on the road and it brought us here but they didn't register us. They told us to leave. They weren't helpful at all.
0923 GMT: Libya. Both Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya are reporting that the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was the American staff member killed at the US Consulate in Benghazi during overnight protests about an amateur film on the Prophet Mohammad.
Al Jazeera English is reporting from a local journalist that four people were killed and two were wounded in the incident. Stephens reportedly suffocated in a fire after the Consulate was struck, possibly by rocket-propelled grenades.
0725 GMT: Syria. There are widely diverging reports on the first meeting in Cairo among the new four-nation "contact group" on the Syrian conflict.
Fars reports that "Iran voiced agreement with the general points stated in the Egyptian initiative", which also includes Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Egyptian officials, however, are leaking news of an effort by President Mohamed Morsi to get the Islamic Republic to end its support for Syria's President Assad:
Morsi offered a package of incentives for Tehran to end its support of Assad, the officials said.
Cairo would agree to restore full diplomatic ties, a significant diplomatic prize for Iran given that Egypt is the most populous Arab nation and a regional powerhouse. Morsi would also mediate to improve relations between Iran and conservative Gulf Arab nations that have long viewed Shiite Iran with suspicion and whose fears of the Persian nation have deepened because of Iran's disputed nuclear program.
Also, Morsi offered a "safe exit" for Assad, his family and members of his inner circle.
And yet another report, from AFP, highlights Iran's strategy to expand the contact group by bringing in Iraq and Venezuela.
(Cross-posted from Iran Live Coverage)
An armed crowd set fire to the building, following similar demonstrations at the US Embassy in the Egyptian capital Cairo.
Libyan officials said "a number" of US staff were injured, as rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the building from a nearby farm. They said there were "fierce clashes between the Libyan army and an armed militia".
Earlier in Cairo, protesters had climbed the wall of the US Embassy, taken down the US flag, and replaced it with a black banner.
The protests were sparked by Egyptian media reports about a 14-minute trailer, released on the Internet, for the amateur film "Innocence of Muslims”. The clip opens with scenes of Egyptian security forces standing idle as Muslims pillage and burn the homes of Egyptian Christians. It then portrays the Prophet Mohammad as a child of uncertain parentage, a buffoon, a womanizer, a homosexual, a child molester, and a greedy, bloodthirsty thug.
The trailer was uploaded to YouTube by a California real estate developer, Sam Bacile, who said he had raised $5 million from 100 Jewish donors to make the film. Controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones began promoting the film with his proclamation of Sept. 11 as “International Judge Mohammad Day".
Jones said Tuesday that the film was "not designed to attack Muslims but to show the destructive ideology of Islam".
0530 GMT: Bahrain. Minister of State for Information Sameera Rajab has denounced the leading opposition society Al Wefaq for "slavish links to Iran and its agenda in the kingdom".
"It is not surprising to find among us today clerics who have lived in Iran, became naturalised in Bahrain and became representatives of the Iranian leader Ali Khamenei in the kingdom," Rajab said.
Rajab's statement was issued in the context of the prohibition by authorities of a protest called by Al Wefaq for last Friday, and the subsequent confrontation by police of demonstrators who gathered in the capital Manama. The minister said last week's "abuses" by Al Wefaq were "a direct result of the society's wrong practices over the years".
There have been efforts by Al Wefaq and by some within the regime, notably Crown Prince Salman, to renew dialogue leading to a political resolution, with society meeting Government ministers.
Ahmad Fawzi, the envoy's spokesman, said, "Brahimi will go to Damascus in the next few days. He will meet with President Assad and other officials, officials from the opposition, as well as representatives of civil society."
UN diplomats said Brahimi would arrive in the Syrian capital by Thursday.
Brahimi's predecessor Kofi Annan last met Assad in mid-July. The meeting brought no advance on Annan's six-point plan for peace, and the envoy announced he was resigning a month later.
The Local Coordination Committees said 130 people had been killed by security forces on Tuesday. Of these, 43 died in and near Aleppo, where heavy shelling by regime forces was reported, 34 perished in Damascus and its suburbs, and 25 were killed in Hama Province.