1924 GMT: Syria. Speaking of gasoline, scenes like the one below, reportedly taken today in Kanaker, Damascus, are increasingly common. The prices of refined gasoline and diesel have skyrocketed, and widespread shortages are reported. The government claims that the shortages are the result of sanctions, but as Robert Ford points out (in the previous update) refined oil was exempt from foreign sanctions in order to avoid this problem. These shortages are the result of the military using up all the fuel.
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1655 GMT: Anthony Shadid summarises for The New York Times:
Tens of thousands of protesters poured into the streets of Damascus’s suburbs and three of Syria’s five largest cities on Friday, in a weekly show of defiance against President Bashar al-Assad. Activists said at least 19 people were killed.
Security forces fired on protesters in Homs, one of Syria most restive locales, and the police and protesters fought in Deir al-Zour, a large city in the east. But thousands were permitted to demonstrate in Kiswa, a town south of Damascus and carry banners that read, “Leave!” and “The people want the fall of the regime.”
Some opposition figures had speculated that the government might try to bring down the weekly death toll, which surged past 100 on one Friday, in anticipation of a speech Mr. Assad is expected to give as early as Sunday. Syrian officials have portrayed the address as significant, though many in the opposition said their expectations were low.
Yesterday we reported that Manal al-Sharif, who not only defied Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving but also posted a YouTube video of herself behind the wheel to inspire others, had been released after nine days in detention.
Now it appears that the price for al-Sharif's freedom is her promise of self-imposed silence.