Claimed footage of civilians in Qusayr, amid fighting for the town near the Lebanese border and 18 miles from Homs:
Entries in Moaz al-Khatib (35)
2045 GMT: Fighting In Al Qusayr. This video reportedly shows rebels firing a Zu-23-2 anti-aircraft gun at Assad fighters near Al Qusayr today:
The feeling in Homs is grim. Contacts we've spoken to reiterate that they have resisted simplifying this conflict along sectarian lines, but that the regime has forced their hand by utilizing sectarian militias, including Hezbollah, to not only attack rebels but also to attack Sunni civilians. Other people who have told us they have contacts in Homs are saying similar things.
By morning, we may see the violence in central Syria explode in the most clearly sectarian fashion since the start of the conflict.
On the other hand, most opposition members have resisted sectarianism so far. Alawite, Druze, and Christian groups fight inside and alongside elements of the Free Syrian Army. While we've never been this pessimistic about sectarian violence in Syria, we're not without hope that the fighting will be limited to the groups that are already involved.
2000 GMT: Regime Kills its Own? This promises to be the most controversial video of the day:
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and US Secretary of State John Kerry at Saturday's Friends of Syria meeting
1935 GMT: Opposition Criticises Lack of International Action
Moaz al-Khatib, the leader of the Syrian National Opposition Coalition, has confirmed the resignation he announced last month.
A Coalition official said, "Khatib is resigning to denounce the international community's lack of real action on behalf of the Syrian people," after the opposition requested "specific, precise and immediate action to protect Syrian civilians from the use of ballistic missiles and chemical weapons".
Khatib had met US Secretary of State John Kerry before Saturday's Friends of Syria meeting. Kerry announced a doubling of "non-lethal" aid to $120 million from Washington, but it was not enough to satisfy the Coalition.
"The result in Istanbul was less than the Syrian people expected," Hisham Marwa, a senior member of the Coalition, said. "The US said that the use of chemical weapons was a red line for the Assad regime but the regime is using them and nothing has happened. We expected more. Russia sends Assad tonnes of weapons every week."
1607 GMT: Rebels Attack Base in Daraa. The rebels have continued their assault against the home of the regime's Battalion 49 just west of Alma, in Daraa province (map). As you can see from the map below, made by @stApexf of Twitter, the base is north of a group of recently captured bases and is in an area of disputed territory:
View Map of Daraa in a larger map
This area is extremely important. Just months ago, the amount of blue or green territory here was almost non-existent. In fact, the regime was so strong that it would have been hard to call any of the area "yellow" or disputed. An influx of new fighters from other areas of Syria, new defectors from Daraa province, and new rebel recruits have helped change this dynamic. Perhaps more important, rebel fighters have also returned to this area after receiving training in both Jordan, and possibly Idlib province....
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:
1652 GMT: Rebels Chip At Assad Bases. On two important fronts, the Syrian rebels are directly attacking Assad strongpoints - using two very different methods, with two different sets of results.
The first is in Qaboun, northeastern Damascus. The rebels have essentially surrounded the headquarters of the Special Forces (map). Parts of the compound have been extensively damaged by these mortar rounds. This base is a significant threat to the rebel operations in Jobar, to the south, so while the rebels fight pitched street battles there, they can chip away at this base, which might be one of the real objectives of this offensive:
The other attack is in the west-central area surrounding the Ummayyad Square. For at least three days, mortars and rocket attacks have hit the area. Many appear to be targeting SANA, Syrian State Media (map). These are the attacks that are launched from the southwest, from rebel controlled areas some distance outside the city. The attacks have convinced the UN top remove a significant portion of its staff from Syria. However, beyond spreading fear, it's unclear if the attacks have any military affect. Both international media and Syrian State Media report that the attacks have killed civilians. This is the latest summary from SANA:
Following up our EA analysis, I spoke with Monocle 24's The Briefing yesterday about the tensions within the opposition, marked by the resignation of the head of the Syrian National Coalition, Moaz al-Khatib, and what happens next.
The take-away lines: "These events are a huge threat to the opposition and --- with the Arab League's meeting today, which could have recognised the Coalition as the representative of the Syrian people --- the timing is awful.The process has been stalled, and it may be undone, with no vision of what is to follow."
And this: "Meanwhile the key factor --- let's be honest here --- the key factor is what is happening on the ground in Syria. If the insurgents continues to make advances, the politics will have to follow that."
The reasons for the in-fighting and divisions may be unclear --- the supposed explanations are more extensions-by-rumour of the in-fighting, rather than measured analysis --- but the effect is more than evident.
Even as key players in the international community have been moving aggressively, albeit behind the scenes, to consolidate support for a political and military challenge to the Assad regime, the stark question --- which was always there, but which elevated itself on Sunday --- remains:
Who represents that opposition?
Claimed footage of "liberation" of Saham near Golan Heights by insurgents on Saturday
See also Syria 1st-Hand: Life in Islamist-Controlled Raqqa br>
Syria Debate: Does the "Free Syrian Army" Exist? br>
Israel, Palestine (and Beyond) Live Coverage: US Restarting Negotiations? br>
Saturday's Syria Live Coverage: Fighting in Aleppo and near Damascus
1719 GMT: Attacks in Damascus. Journalist Alex Thomson reports that insurgents have hit State television in the capital:
Two mortars have hit STV building and carpark. Some damage and vehicles destroyed.— alex thomson (@alextomo) March 24, 2013
2022 GMT: Evening Protests. In Al Raqqah, the regime is rapidly fading into memory as protesters take to the streets tonight:
1955 GMT: Rebels Advance in Aleppo. The rebels are successfully pushing deeper and deeper into southern and western Aleppo. Rebels have now captured an important mosque in the Saleh el Dine district (map). Videos showed the rebels capturing ammunition that was apparently stored inside the mosque by nearby fighters.
Below is a playlist of several videos showing rebel fighters advancing in Saleh el Dine and elsewhere today: