"The email account of the ministry was hacked in order to publish inaccurate information" about the reported dismissal of the Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel Karim Ali, the ministry said in a statement carried by state television.
According to the Ministry of Information, Ambassador Ali is still working at his post.
25 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its Suburbs, 19 in Aleppo, 14 in Daraa, 9 in Homs, 2 in Lattakia, 1 in Hama, 1 in Deir Ezzor, and 1 in Idlib.
18 martyrs were reported in Aleppo, 16 in Damascus and its Suburbs, 10 in Daraa, 9 in Aleppo, 2 in Lattakia, 1 in Hama, 1 in Deir Ezzor, and 1 in Idlib.
Many areas around Damascus are reporting a sudden surge in shelling, airstrikes, and other forms of violence. Heavy shelling is reported in Irbeen (map). Douma has also reportedly been heavily shelled (map). This video reportedly shows Kisweh, to the southwest of the capital, after many shells reportedly landed on the suburb.
But there is one claim that has our attention - the LCC reports that there are clashes between Free Syrian Army units and the Syrian military between Qaboun and Tishreen. What's significant? Tishreen is the area where the Presidential Palace, and many other important government buildings, are located (map). For now, it's too early to tell if this is a militarily significant event, or just a small firefight.
1436 GMT: Syria. We hear a lot about Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey, or Jordan. However, according to Jordanian officials, more than 2,000 of the refugees who have fled Syria have actually been Syrian soldiers trying to escape the military:
"The number of refugees who have entered Jordan through unofficial border crossings until Wednesday has reached more than 74,000 Syrians... 2,053 of them soldiers from various ranks," Brigadier General Hussein al-Ziyud told the semi-official Al-Dustour newspaper.
Ziyud said the soldiers have been "taken to special places under special protection," adding that "many of them were shot at as they tried to enter Jordan and some of the gunfire hit Jordanian territory."
1430 GMT: Syria. Yesterday, battles rages in the Izza and Saif al Dawla districts of Aleppo, just east of the Salah el Dine district. The AFP reports:
Today, more heavy fighting in the area, according to activists:
1342 GMT: Syria. Earlier we posted video of the results of an airstrike in the Maadi district of Aleppo. The AP now reports that at least 5 people were killed in the strike, a number that could easily rise.
Aleppo-based activist said Mohammed Saeed said the raid came before dawn. He added that the aim behind such strikes on residential areas is to "terrify the people and try to turn them against the Free Syrian Army rebel group.
"The regime wants people to say that had the Free Syrian Army not entered the city, the regime wouldn't have bombed us," Saeed said.
This video shows rescuers trying to free people from the rubble
The man with the hacksaw is telling people to be quiet because he can hear someone's faint screams from under rubble youtube.com/watch?v=dpe1rE…— Nuff Silence (@NuffSilence) September 24, 2012
1325 GMT: Syria. No matter how bad things get anywhere else in the country, it is very unlikely that any city in the Middle East will ever fare worse during the Arab Uprisings than Homs, Syria. The city is routinely bombed, shelled, attacked by snipers, tanks, small arms, RPGs, barrel bombs, air strikes, mortar shells... it's endless.
The video below reportedly shows the moment a shell falls in central Homs:
North of the city, the shells and bombs are also falling at an alarming rate today. This video was reportedly taken in Ter Maela (map), just north of the city. It is hard to watch. A graphic image of a person, torn apart and trapped in rubble, is filmed by a frightened cameraman. As people move to remove the rubble and rescue victims, a second shell falls, just a few meters from the cameraman. Many injuries are visible.Further to the north, in Al Rastan (map), many shells rain down on the city which has been held by insurgents for many months:
1252 GMT: Syria. A graphic, and unverified, video has been spreading on social media sites today, claiming to show prisoners of the Assad regime being kicked and whipped by Syrian soldiers. The men are in a small room, huddled against a wall covered in blood. From looking at the video, the violence appears to be real. The sounds of the boot-on-bone kicks, plus the red marks and cut skin that appear to be the result of the whipping, appears to be convincing evidence.
The video was reportedly filmed by a soldier and "leaked" onto the internet. Some soldiers take videos such as these as trophies, while others take them to document crimes that they are forced to commit. Still others have a more basic motivation - members of the opposition will reportedly pay top dollar for videos that show crimes committed by Assad regime members.
Still, videos such as these remain "unconfirmed." The video was (we think originally) posted by a Youtube account and a Facebook page that are both very much anti-regime.
1220 GMT: Syria. Barrel bombs - The Syrian military has increasingly turned to homemade ordnance, large barrels packed with TNT, and sometimes oil or gasoline, weapons that have very little military value but are still devastating to a civilian populace. Their use across Syria is extremely well documented, but in recent days it has become clear that these weapons are being used more often, and in more places.
The newest report of these weapons being used was posted by the Local Coordination Committee in Lattakia. They report that the mountain town of Salma (map) has been hit by artillery and barrel bombs dropped from helicopters. Fighting persists in Lattakia province, a stronghold of the Assad's, and this increasingly fierce attack against the civilians in Salma, and other majority-Sunni locations, is a clear indication of the government's frustration with the ongoing threat to its own back doorstep.
1200 GMT: Syria. Citizens dig through the rubble to find victims of an airstrike in the Maadi district of Aleppo:
James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas for getting us started today.
1052 GMT: Libya. American officials have told the New York Times that their intelligence capabilities were crippled in the attacks at and near the US Consulate in Benghazi on 11 September that killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Among the more than two dozen American personnel evacuated from the city after the assault on the Consulate mission and a nearby annex were about a dozen CIA operatives and contractors.
“It’s a catastrophic intelligence loss,” said one American official. “We got our eyes poked out.”
The CIA's surveillance targets in Benghazi and eastern Libya include the Ansar al-Sharia militia and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
0918 GMT: Syria. State news agency SANA has an interesting approach to Sunday's meeting of 16 opposition groups in Damascus (see 0515 GMT), "National Conference for Rescuing Syria Starts". The article devotes seven paragraphs to the statement of the Russian Ambassador, but has nothing else except "the conference was organized by the oppositional National Coordination Body".
0910 GMT: Bahrain. Minister of Human Rights Salah bin Ali Abdulrahman told Amnesty International's Peter Splinter on Saturday of "innumerable achievements regarding...institutional reforms" included this statement:
The “Bahraini Spring” kick-started a decade ago with the launch of HM the King’s pioneering Reform Project which laid the foundation for a modern civil state and strengthened the pillars of constitutional institutions, in line with the popular aspirations for a democratic state in which the people is the source of all authority and supremacy of the law is guaranteed.
Soldiers! Soldiers!" The man hissed his warning as he hurried past, two bullets from a government sniper kicking up dust from the dirt road behind him.
It was enough for Abu Omar al-Chechen. His ragtag band of foreign fighters, known as "muhajiroun brothers", was huddled in the doorway of a burned-out apartment building in the university district of Aleppo. One of the brothers --- a Turk --- lay dead in the road around the corner and a second brother lay next to him, badly wounded and unable to move. They had been unable to rescue him because of the sniper.
Abu Omar gave an order in Arabic, which was translated into a babble of different languages --- Chechen, Tajik, Turkish, French, Saudi dialect, Urdu --- and the men retreated in orderly single file, picking their way between piles of smouldering rubbish and twisted plastic bottles toward a house behind the front line where other fighters had gathered.
Their Syrian handler stood alone in the street clutching two radios: one blared in Chechen and the other in Arabic. Two men volunteered to stay and try to fetch the young injured man.
The fighters sat outside the house in the shade of the trees, clutching their guns and discussing the war. Among them was a thin Saudi, dressed in a dirty black T-shirt and a prayer cap, who conversed in perfect English with a Turk sitting next to him. He had arrived the week before and was curious about how the jihad was being reported abroad.
"What do the foreign news organisations and the outside world say about us?" he asked. "Do they know about the fighting in Aleppo? Do they know that we are here?"
0745 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees report that 85 people were killed by security forces on Sunday, including 22 in Damascus and its suburbs, 21 in Aleppo Province, 14 in Daraa Province, and 12 in Hama Province.
The one-day session put out the headline language of agreement on the idea of "overthrowing the regime with all its symbols" while rejecting foreign intervention emphasising the need for "peaceful struggle to achieve the goals of the revolution".
The gathering, however, raised far more questions than answers. Did the Russian and Iranian Ambassadors, who were present and whose Governments have hosted visit by the opposition, agree with the goal?
Indeed, how was it possible to draw up any approach towards "overthrow" when the Assad regime had struck first, detaining two NCB leaders on Thursday when they arrived at Damascus's airport after talks in Beijing? NCB head Hassan Abdul-Azim could only declare, "It's our right to meet here in the capital to express our views without being subject to dictates and pressures or to be forced to make concessions."
And what will be the relationship, if any, between the "internal" opposition and the political and military opposition based abroad? Significantly, hours before the 16 groups gathered, the Free Syrian Army made its own statement, announcing that it had moved its base of operations from Turkey to inside Syria.