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Syria Live Coverage: The Arab League Recognises the Opposition

Fighting in Qaboun in northeastern Damascus on Tuesday

1545 GMT: Riot in Turkish Camp. The Turkish police have disrupted a protest in a Syrian refugee camp today. The Guardian reports:

Turkish police have fired water cannon and teargas at Syrian refugees after a fight broke out in a refugee camp in Akcakale.

Turkey's Today's Zaman said refugees had thrown stones and damaged property. It said the protest came after a child was killed in a tent fire. Three others were injured.

1452 GMT: Opposition Opens Embassy - in Qatar. Following the Arab League's recognition of the Syrian National Coalition as the sole representatives of the Syrian people, the opposition group has opened it's first embassy - in Qatar. Qatar has been militarily supplying the Syrian rebels with arms for about a year (in contrast, the Saudi effort that was endorsed by the US did not start until December 2012), and Qatari-linked elements in the opposition have gained power on both Syria's streets and in the membership of the Syrian National Coalition. This is perhaps another sign that the opposition leadership is most willing to deal with countries that are willing to assist the opposition militarily.

Also, it's interesting to see that Moaz al Khatib attended the ribbon cutting himself:

In presence of Arab and Western ambassadors, the president of Syria's opposition coalition, Moaz Alkhatib and Qatari Khalid al-Atiyah, state minister for foreign affairs, cut the ribbon at the entrance to the embassy.

Despite his resignation as the President of the NC just three days ago, Khatib appears to be acting as the NC's leader, and the NC appears to be treating him as such. It's unclear what direction Khatib will pick moving forward, and whether he will continue to lead the opposition's governing body.

1422 GMT: Kafer Takharim. The first two locations to ever declare themselves "liberated" from the Assad regime were Zabadani, in rural Rif Dimashq, and Kafer Takharim, in Idlib province (map). This small town near the border with Turkey has long been a symbol of "free Syria," but it has also paid a steep price for that resistance.

Yesterday, more bombs fell, and the devastation was tremendous. Though it is a long ways from the headlines of Aleppo or Damascus, few locations have paid with more blood.

Below we've posted a video playlist from the town. Two different videos show the bombs falling - then many videos show the residents desperately trying to free the victims from the rubble. According to some reports, between 8 and 12 people died, but perhaps more than 50 were wounded, some severely:

1348 GMT: Death Toll Rises. According to the latest update from the Local Coordination Committees, 52 people have been killed across Syria:

28 martyrs in Damascus and its suburbs, 6 martyrs in Homs, 5 martyrs in Dara'a, 3 martyrs in Deir Ezzor, 2 martyrs in Idlib, 2 martyrs in Quneitra and 1 martyr in Tartous.

The overall number of deaths being reported so far is not unusually high (a sad testimony to the amount of blood shed in Syria every day). However, the number of reported deaths in Damascus is significantly elevated for this early hour, an indication of the amount of shelling and bombing that is taking place today.

See our note about the casualty figures published by the LCC.

James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas for getting us started today.

1039 GMT: Opposition. Opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib has said NATO's rejecton of his call for Patriot missile support for insuregnt-held areas in the north sends a message to the Assad regime to "do what [it] wants".

Al-Khatib made the call in an address to the Arab League on Tuesday.

Al-Khatib said he would not rescind his weekend resignation as leader of the Syrian National Coalition but would continue to perform leadership duties for the time being.

0939 GMT: Chemical Weapons. United Nations official Hervé Ladsous has said that UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights have reduced their activities, amid fighting and following the abduction of 21 peacekeepers by insurgents earlier this month.

Ladsous the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which monitors the border between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Heights, has had to “adopt a posture which is somewhat more static” and take additional security measures, including the use of more armoured vehicles.

“We have had to reduce somewhat the footprint of UNDOF in the Golan Heights in the area of operation,” Ladsous confirmed.

In the days following the 72-hour abduction of the 21 Filipino peacekeepers, UNDOF vacated two positions exposed to gunfire.

0931 GMT: Chemical Weapons. Swedish professor Åke Sellström has been appointed to head the United Nations fact-finding mission into allegations of the use of chemical weapons.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced the investigation last Thursday, after receiving requests from the Syrian Government and from France and Britain.

0719 GMT: Fighting for the Regime. A group of supporters of the regime vow to battle Islamists, specifically the Jabhat al-Nusra faction:

0715 GMT: Casualties. The.Local Coordination Committees claim 154 people were killed on Tuesday, including 24 members of the Free Syrian Army.

Of the deaths, 48 were in Damascus and its suburbs, 23 in Aleppo Province, and 22 in Daraa Province.

The Violations Documentation Center records 54,270 deaths since the start of the conflict in March 2011, an increase of 143 from Tuesday. Of the dead, 43,449 were civilians, an increase of 102 from yesterday.

0655 GMT: The Arab League and the Opposition. The saga of the Syrian opposition, which has taken the headlines over the last week, continued on Tuesday --- the Arab League effectively recognised it as the representative of the Syrian people, inviting it to take Damascus' seat in the body.

Moaz al-Khatib, the head of the Syrian National Coalition until last weekend, gave a powerful speech to the Arab delegates at the start of a two-day meeting in Doha. He declared:

We created the revolution and it is only the Syrian people who will determine how the revolution will end. We will determine who will rule the country. We will live together to in harmony.

Al-Khatib took the theme of rights farther by saying that this was not only a matter for Syrians, calling on Arab states to release political prisoners, "Fear God in your treatment of your people, and fortify justice in your countries."

As for action on the Syrian crisis, al-Khatib appealed to the international community, particularly the US, to step up public support. He used the example of the Patriot anti-missile systems, placed on the Turkish border at the start of the year, to indicate that air power should be used to protect insurgent-held areas inside Syria --- an effective maintenance of a "no-fly zone".

Al-Khatib's address was well-received, but it cannot remove immediate questions. Given that he is no longer head of the Coalition, having quit over internal tensions and his unease with the pace of international backing, who now leads the "opposition"? What happens after the Arab League's representatives leave Doha today?

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