A spokesman for insurgents tours the besieged city of Qusayr
Entries in Ban Ki-moon (66)
Insurgents have retaken the Damascus suburb of Otaiba, which was been a conduit for arms from Jordan to opposition forces near the capital before it was seized by regime forces last month.
Commanders said insurgent brigades, including the General Command and Islamist factions, had united to re-claim Otaiba, two miles northeast of Damascus International Airport.
The opposition forces adopted a white banner with the Muslim declaration of faith: "There is no god but God; Mohammad is God's prophet."
2210 GMT: Major Policy Shift Signaled By the US? Many analysts are writing about military intervention in Syria. Some are opposed, some are in favor, many are still on the fence. One article in particular was promoted heavily on Twitter: The Case for Intervening in Syria, published by The Atlantic. What caught our eye, however, is that one of the Twitter accounts pushing the report belongs to the US State Deptartment’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations:
2148 GMT: Rebels Redress Assad Advance in Damascus. At the start of my day, there was news that the Syrian regime was stacking tanks on the outskirts of Jobar, the east-central district of Damascus that is the front lines of the fight for the capital in the east. The area was being heavily shelled and bombed by artillery, rockets, and aircraft, softening up the area for the ground assault.
It's unclear whether the offensive was ultimately successful, but it does not appear that is was. Furthermore, the rebels appear to have inflicted heavy losses on the regime, particularly in the form of tanks.
1842 GMT: Israel Fires Artillery into Syria. According to Al Jazeera English, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) exchanged fire with a target in Syria:
"No soldiers were injured and no damage was caused," the statement said.
"IDF soldiers responded with artillery fire towards the source of the shooting."
The statement said "a direct hit was identified" and that the army had informed UN authorities about the incident.
Israel's Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said after a previous incident of a Syrian mortal shell and small-arms fire on the Golan that his nation would respond to any attacks on its territory.
1615 GMT: Qamishli Under Attack. Months ago it appeared that a rebel coalition that included a strong representation of Jabhat al Nusra fighters was set to take Qamishli, a largely-Kurdish city in the northeastern corner of Syria (map). Qamishli city has had a strong presence of anti-Assad protests, but Assad still has outposts in the city, particularly in the south. Also, the Kurdish leadership, both the members of the PYD and others, have reached an agreement with the rebels to govern the city themselves. It's unclear if that agreement has broken down, or whether Kurdish groups have joined this attack. However, heavy clashes are reported near the airport to the south (map) which is reportedly being shelled by rebel fighters. The video below reportedly shows smoke rising over the city as a result of the fighting.
State TV footage of the aftermath of Monday's car bomb in central Damascus
1616 GMT: Massacre in Homs. In the last week of March we posted evidence of a massacre in Abil, outside of Homs (map). Between 13 and 18 burnt bodies were found in the town, and eyewitnesses said that "shabiha," pro-regime militia, were the culprits.
Salam, a former Minister of Culture, was named Prime Minister after receiving the support of 124 of 128 MPs. He was chosen after two days of consultations, following last month's resignation of Najib Mikati.
“I start from the necessity of taking Lebanon out of divisions and political tensions that were reflected in the security situation,” Salam said in his first public statement after being chosen.
Iran Analysis: 5-Point Beginner's Guide to Today's Nuclear Talks
Iran Feature: Talking Tough --- How the US and Tehran Mirror Each Other's Rhetoric br>
Thursday's Iran Live: Tehran's Positive Signals for Nuclear Talks
ISNA gave a neutral report on Friday afternoon, noting that Iran's nuclear negotiating team had a new member, Mehdi Safari, the former ambassador to China.
ISNA also reported that the spokesman for the lead negotiator of the 5+1 Powers, Catherine Ashton, said they were not going to put any new offers on the table in this round of talks, and that Tehran needed to prove its nuclear programne had no military dimension.
Fars News, close to the Revolutionary Guards, focused on Iran's position. It repeated comments by Ali Bagheri, Iran's deputy negotiators, that Tehran had come up with specific recommendations for cooperation with the 5+1, and that those proposals had been presented in Moscow last June.
Iran believed the proposals were a "confidence building step, i.e. actions that both sides have to agree to do as part of a comprehensive solution", Bagheri said.
Hardline Mashregh News, meanwhile, criticised comments by Ashton's spokesman Michael Mann as "strange".
Mashregh noted that Mann had tried to respond to an Iranian journalist's question about why Europe had not made "the slightest effort to stop Israel's nuclear activities", and why the 5+1 were talking about Iran's nuclear program and not West Jerusalem's.
The journalist added that world powers ignored the fact that two-thirds of non-aligned nations supported Iran's nuclear programme.
Mann responded that the "discussions about resolving Iran's nuclear programme must be completed and it is not possible to set a deadline for that", according to Mashregh.
Youssef is accused of insulting President Morsi and denigrating Islam on his TV show.
1509 GMT: Mali. At least three Malian soldiers have been injured in fighting today in Timbuktu, a day after insurgents killed two troops and injured another in attacks including a suicide bombing (see 0853 GMT).
A military spokesman said, "The fighting is heavy and it is ongoing. We are in the process of encircling them."
See also Turkey Analysis: Will the Kurdish Peace Offer Survive the Next Steps? br>
Syria Live Coverage: The Arab League Recognises the Opposition br>
Tuesday's Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: "Only President Morsi Can Save the Economy"
The court also cancelled Morsi's decision to appoint a replacement, Talat Ibrahim.
Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party has expressed its surprise at the decision, which may go to a higher court for review.
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: