Pressure is mounting for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian violence that has left dozens dead and hundreds wounded, with the U.N chief flying to the region to appeal for a cease-fire.
Meanwhile, the head of Egyptian intelligence has given an Israeli delegation a letter for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu containing Hamas conditions for a cease-fire, a general in Egyptian intelligence told CNN. There was no immediate confirmation from Israel.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Syrian forces are intensifying their bombardment of the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, a stronghold of the opposition. For those trapped in the area, there is the ever-present danger that the next shell will hit wherever they are trying to find¬†shelter, or a sniper's bullet will kill them.
CNN's Arwa Damon, who was in Homs last week, saw the risks that opposition activists were taking minute-by-minute, when she went to their communications center.¬†CNN's Ivan Watson also was able to get an inside look at a makeshift, rebel-run media operation helping to get the news and pictures out of Syria. Below are edited accounts of what they've seen and been told about how Syrians are trying to get their message out:
The weapons are different here. They come in the form of protest banners, videos and anti-government demonstrations. And they are images that are broadcast and streamed live online to the outside world.
Young men are among the activists that have kept the Syrian uprising alive by using technology in the face of a government crackdown that's left thousands dead.
The Syrian regime says they are facing a barrage of attacks from armed terrorists. They are fighting back, but these revolutionaries insist they don't need guns.
"I don't need Kalashnikov. I need just this [holds up camera] and laptop and media,"¬†Shaheb Sumac tells Watson.
They arm themselves with these pieces of technology and a whole lot of bravery. They show CNN footage they've shot secretly.
And then they distribute them across Syria and throughout the world. This amateur footage has served as a lifeline into life in Syria as it has become an¬†important source of information for news organizations, including CNN, which are barred from freely working inside the country.
At first glance, the media operation appears like a grungy Middle Eastern university dorm room. But in their eyes, these men are media warriors.
"We are fighting a war against the regime's media channels," Alaa Edien Hamdoun, the group's leader, tells Watson.¬†Even though we're working for free with few resources ... we are winning against them ... because we are servants of our revolution who are demanding freedom."
Editor's note: CNN correspondent Arwa Damon recently spent some time in Baba Amr, a neighborhood in Homs, Syria, a city that has been a flashpoint in a months-long uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Government forces have shelled parts of the city – especially Baba Amr, a bastion of anti-government sentiment – for more than two weeks, damaging houses and other buildings and leaving many dead and wounded.
Damon was one of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been placing restrictions on journalists and refusing many of them entry. Below is the latest in a string of edited accounts of what Damon and her team saw and heard from activists in Homs:
Virtually no food has come into Baba Amr since the shelling began more than two weeks ago, activists say. So, the residents who are gathered in makeshift bunkers collect what food they can find there and carefully ration it – though those supplies are running out.
Some of what they‚Äôve gathered comes from, among other places, stores that have been hit by artillery fire.
‚ÄúWe take the products to distribute so they don‚Äôt go to waste. We keep track of everything we took to reimburse the owners,‚ÄĚ an activist says.
Editor's note:¬†CNN correspondent Arwa Damon reported from Baba Amr, a neighborhood in Homs, Syria, a city that has been a flashpoint in a months-long uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Government forces have shelled parts of the city¬†‚Äď¬†especially Baba Amr, a bastion of anti-government sentiment¬†‚Äďfor two weeks, damaging houses and other buildings and leaving many dead and wounded.
Damon is one of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been placing restrictions on journalists and refusing many of them entry. Below is an edited account of what Damon and her team saw and heard from activists in Homs:
This small hall was once filled with laughter. Marriages took place here. Now the echoing sounds are not of joy, but of tragedy.
In this makeshift bunker, some of the families of Baba Amr who have nowhere else to go huddle. But, it offers them very little comfort.
"We're not sleeping at night, we're not sleeping during the day," a man named Ilham howls. "The children are always crying, the bombs are coming down."
Often they huddle in near darkness.
Some cover their faces, still afraid of the government's relentless shelling. They are afraid, they said, they might lose more than they already have. Conditions here are desperate
In hard-hit Baba Amr, about 350 people who've fled their homes out of fear or necessity are living in the makeshift bunker.
Restricted by seemingly constant shelling and gunfire outside, they don't have any medicine, let alone the ability to get to a hospital. Children are getting sick, and one woman recently gave birth there. They have little food¬†‚Äď¬†some lentils and rice and a little bread.
They fled here either because their homes were destroyed by shelling, or because the firing was getting too close.
Editor's note: CNN correspondent Arwa Damon is reporting from Baba Amr, a neighborhood in Homs, Syria, a city that has been a flashpoint in a months-long uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Government forces have shelled parts of the city – especially Baba Amr, a bastion of anti-government sentiment – for two weeks, damaging houses and other buildings and leaving many dead and wounded.
Damon is one of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been placing restrictions on journalists and refusing many of them entry. Below is an edited account of what Damon and her team are seeing and hearing from activists in Homs:
In hard-hit Baba Amr, about 350 people who've fled their homes out of fear or necessity are living in a building that they've made into a makeshift bunker. Conditions are desperate.
Restricted by frequent shelling and gunfire outside, they don't have any medicine, let alone the ability to get to a hospital. Children are getting sick, and one woman recently gave birth there. They have little food – some lentils and rice and a little bread.
They fled here either because their homes were destroyed by shelling, or because the firing was getting too close.
Just about everyone in the bunker says they've either lost a loved one to the violence, or have a loved one who has been detained.
Editor's Note: CNN¬†correspondent¬†Arwa Damon is reporting from Baba Amr, a¬†neighborhood that has become a symbol of the uprising in Syria, where she found impoverished and shaken residents who are facing shortages of supplies and daily attacks, yet they stand firm in their opposition to the government of President¬†Bashar¬†al-Assad.
Damon is one of a few reporters in Syria, where the government has been placing restrictions on international journalists and refusing many of them entry at all.¬†Below is an edited account of what Damon and her team are seeing and hearing from activists in Homs as attacks continue:
Shelling had struck a medical clinic at least three times, shattering the windows. Inside, critically wounded patients were lying in hospital beds tended to by two doctors - an internist and a dentist.
The doctors said they had neither the equipment nor the expertise to help many of their patients. For example, one man would require that his leg be amputated if he were not transferred to a hospital within a day, a doctor said. The stench from the man's wound underscored the seriousness of his condition. The patient said the constant bombardment and the resulting carnage had stripped life of its meaning for him. As the man spoke, tears coursed down the doctor's cheeks.
A 30-year-old man whose brain had been pierced by shrapnel lay on the brink of death. The doctors had been able only to sew shut the wound and give him anti-clotting drugs.
Many of those who survive are taken to private homes nearby so that they can recover. Those trips can themselves be perilous, as snipers have taken up positions on rooftops in the neighborhood.
The two medical professionals are aided by 20 volunteers, each of whom has undergone 15 days of training. One of those volunteers, a young man who himself became a casualty in the shelling, died Wednesday.
"How can the world stay silent?" asked a nurse who had tried to comfort him. "They're human beings in front of us. These are not people who are made of stone."
Editor's note: CNN¬†correspondent¬†Arwa Damon has reached the besieged¬†Syrian¬†city of Homs, which opposition forces say has been under a sustained¬†artillery¬†bombing for days. ¬†
Damon is one of a few reporters in Syria, where the government has been placing restrictions on international journalists and refusing many of them entry at all. Below is an edited account of what Damon and her team are seeing and hearing from activists in Homs as attacks continue:
The thick black smoke rising across the skyline is from an oil pipeline that is¬†believed¬†to have been hit. We heard three explosions at around 6:30 in the morning. Shortly thereafter a thick plume of black smoke began covering the skyline here. This is not the first time we have seen these type of images emerging from the besieged city of Homs. That pipeline has been hit on at least two other occasions.
At around 7:30 a.m. local time the sustained¬†bombardment¬†began. We heard various sounds of artillery being fired as well as sporadic, heavy automatic machine-gun fire. This has been the status quo in Homs for more than a week now.
The¬†Syrian¬†military has really intensified its offensive here, especially in the neighborhood of Baba Amr. Activists say they believe the¬†Syrian¬†government is on a campaign to flatten every single neighborhood where there has been some sort of opposition, some sort of effort to try to stand up to this government.
Just to give you an idea of how intense the bombardment has been, Tuesday¬†morning activists said they counted around 55 explosions in just the span of 15 minutes. They say that has been the norm. You can only imagine¬†the type of pressure that they have been under, especially when it comes to trying to deal with the number of dead and the number wounded. In many parts of the city, they¬†have¬†been unable to get medical supplies in.
And in these makeshift clinics that they¬†have¬†set up, they¬†aren't¬†able to treat the wounded adequately because of a lack of medical supplies and because they only have the most basic medical equipment at their disposal. There has been an intensified effort on the part of the activists here to try to find various routes out of the¬†besieged¬†neighborhoods to get medical supplies in and to get the wounded out. Many of the wounded require much greater treatment than what people are able to provide at these clinics.
Editor's note: CNN's Arwa Damon is reporting from inside Syria¬†, where the government has been placing restrictions on international journalists and refusing many of them entry at all.¬†Residents and opposition activists say they fear for their lives as shelling and snipers leave them trapped.
CNN is not disclosing Damon's location for her safety. Below are dispatches from her on what she's seeing and hearing from residents in the area.
It‚Äôs an incredibly intense situation here. It‚Äôs also incredibly emotional. Anger is running at an all-time high, as¬†are frustration and desperation. People that¬†we've¬†been talking to, every single one of them has some sort of horrific nightmare or story, and some of them are still too afraid to¬†talk about it publicly¬†with their names attached to it.
One man we met, he had four members of his family executed as government forces, he said, were raiding their village. And he wanted to tell the story ‚Äď he wanted to put out the images of loved ones. He was afraid because he said at the same time his uncle had been detained.
A lot of the younger generation, we‚Äôre talking to university students,¬†they've¬†all had to drop out and people repeatedly keep expressing how difficult it is for them to try to keep going, because they‚Äôre quite simply exhausted and they have lost so many loved ones.
Every single step that they take of every single day involves a phenomenal amount of plotting, whether it's something simple like trying to get a loaf of bread or something more complicated like trying to get someone who‚Äôs been wounded to some sort of medical care.
In the areas where the government crackdown¬†is at its worst, people say there are snipers positioned on every single street corner. You could hardly cross a main thoroughfare without coming across a government sniper. And then of course there are all of the tanks and the government checkpoints.
[Updated at 2:44 p.m. ET] Deaths mounted in Syria on Friday as world powers plan crucial talks about the conflict there.
Soldiers and security forces killed 135 people on Thursday and Friday, said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition activist group.
The group said most of the people were killed in Homs and dozens also died in Hama and Daraa. CNN cannot independently confirm events in Syria because it is limited from reporting on the ground. Of those reported dead, 18 were children and eight were women.
In violence Friday in the Daraa province town of Nawa, 11 civilians died at the hands of pro-regime militias. The assault occurred during a funeral procession for a high school student whom security forces killed Thursday.
"The regime's forces encircled the procession and responded with intense gunfire which led to additional martyrs. ... (President Bash al-Assad's) security forces and thugs raided the private hospital in the town and attempted to kidnap the wounded," the group said. It said activist Bashar Abu al-Sal, popular for leading chants in demonstrations, was among the 11 dead. Dozens also were wounded, it said.FULL STORY
[Updated at 4:54 p.m.] An agreement has been reached in the U.N. Security Council to release $1.5 billion in frozen Libyan assets to the country's fledgling rebel government, diplomats said Thursday.
[Updated at 2:13 p.m.] Gadhafi loyalists have destroyed an empty Libyan airline passenger plane parked at the international airport in Tripoli.
[Updated at 11:54 a.m.] A message purportedly from Moammar Gadhafi was aired Thursday on a loyalist radio station.
The speaker urged people not to leave Tripoli "for the rats." It further implored listeners to "Go out into the streets and fight."
CNN cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the recording. Gadhafi has previously described his adversaries before as rats.
[Updated at 10:49 a.m.] The main source of the opposition's supplies is coming from fighters loyal to Gadhafi. As the rebels win battles, they gather up the enemy's weaponry and equipment to add to their own arsenal.
In Ras Lanuf, home to an oil refinery capable of producing hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day, a long line of trucks awaited refueling. Most of the trucks had been taken from Moammar Gadhafi's loyalists and been retrofitted with heavy weaponry, including anti-aircraft guns and a rocket launcher.
Ras Lanuf is about 125 miles from Sirte, Gadhafi's hometown and one of the Libyan leader's last strongholds.
Gadhafi has a $1.4 million bounty on his head, but despite claims that he is holed up in an apartment complex in Tripoli, observers are skeptical because of a past rebel assertion that they knew where the Libyan leader was hiding and another announcement that they had captured his son, Saif al-Islam. Neither were accurate.
[Updated at 10:15 a.m.] There has been sporadic but intense artillery fire throughout day near Tripoli International Airport as rebels try to capture the highway connecting the airport and the capital. The airport is about 17 miles south of the capital.
Editor's note: CNN's Arwa¬†Damon is reporting from Syria, where violence has prompted hundreds of people to flee to Turkey. Critics of the Syrian government accuse it of killing unarmed demonstrators; the government blames what it says are armed gangs bent on establishing an Islamic caliphate. This is a post that Damon filed Tuesday from Jisr¬†al-Shougour, a Syrian town where some refugees are from.
We had just passed the "Homs 40km" sign when we saw the first tanks stationed along the Damascus-Aleppo highway and the sandbagged fighting positions. The closer we got to the town of Jisr¬†al-Shoughour, the more the Syrian landscape reminded me of a military zone.
Stuffed in each vehicle in our government convoy were members of the media, official escorts and drivers packing AK-47s. By the time we were heading into downtown Jisr¬†al-Shoughour, we'd also picked up two truckloads of soldiers, all apparently for our protection.
We are told that the foreign-backed armed gangs the government blames for the violence still pose a threat.
For weeks we had been reporting on the government crackdown from the Syria-Turkey border. We listened to harrowing stories from refugees who fled Jisr¬†al-Shoughour and surrounding villages with just the clothes on their backs, convinced that should they have stayed, they would have been at the mercy of the full wrath of the Syrian military. Crouched under makeshift tents or crammed into refugee camps, they told of Syrian security forces indiscriminately opening fire on demonstrators, mass arrests and killings.
The conversations echoed in my mind - the tremors of terror in their voices, the fear I had seen in their eyes - as we drove through the town so many of them once called home.
As the Syrian military on Tuesday continued its relentless advance against protesters, citizens who had fled their homes for safety related "horror story upon horror story" to a reporter who managed to enter the country.
Despite the Syrian government's consistent refusal to give CNN and other international news organizations permission to enter the country, a CNN reporter crossed the Turkish border into northwestern Syria for a few hours Tuesday
A number of people said they had witnessed bombings around the city as they fled. One man said soldiers shot at him, and a woman said she witnessed death.
"They set our fields on fire, destroyed our homes," said a woman who added that she was planning to try to cross into Turkey for protection. But others said they would remain in Syria, some hoping to find loved ones lost in the chaos, others hoping against hope to return to their homes.FULL STORY
The latest developments on the situation in Libya, where the government declared a cease-fire Friday after the United Nations voted to impose a no-fly zone in response to weeks of bloody clashes between forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi and rebels. Read our complete story and check out our full coverage on unrest in the Arab world. Also, don't miss a gripping, high-resolution gallery of images from Libya.
[9:50 p.m. ET, 3:50 a.m. in Libya] A woman in Tripoli says she was awoken this morning by a loud explosion from a nearby military base.
After being shaken from her sleep around 2:20 a.m., she said she heard gunfire and went to the roof of her building to observe.
"Then I heard the second explosion," she said. She saw fire rising up from the direction of Mitiga Airport, formerly known as the U.S. Wheelus Air Base.
She also said that people continue to live in fear of Gadhafi. "They're afraid to come out because when they do, he attacked them very, very severely," she says. "This is putting terror in all neighborhoods."
[9:30 p.m. ET, 3:30 a.m. in Libya] State TV in Libya reported early Sunday that 48 people were killed and 150 injured in coalition airstrikes. CNN was not immediately able to independently confirm the report.
[9:20 p.m. ET, 3:20 a.m. in Libya] Britain's Royal Air Force the RAF has launched Stormshadow missiles from a number of Tornado GR4 fast jets as part of a series of coordinated coalition strikes against Libya, the Ministry of Defense said.
"We made clear that if Gaddafi did not comply with the UN Security Council Resolution 1973, it would be enforced through military action. Our Armed Forces have therefore participated in a co-ordinated international coalition strike against key military installations," defense secretary Liam Fox said in a statement.
"The fast jets flew 3,000 miles from RAF Marham and back making this the longest range bombing mission conducted by the RAF since the Falklands conflict," he said. "HMS Westminster is off the coast of Libya and HMS Cumberland is in the region ready to support operations. Typhoon aircraft are also standing by to provide support."
Afghan President Hamid Karzai offered Saturday to end a political standoff and move up the inauguration of parliament after hours of heated debate among the country's lawmakers, officials said.
Karzai initially had postponed the ceremony by a month, but appeared to concede to demands Saturday and offered to inaugurate parliament on Wednesday.
However, the inauguration will take place only under the condition that lawmakers accept any decision of a special court established in December at Karzai's request to look into hundreds of allegations of fraud brought forward by losing candidates, parliament member Baktash Seyawash said.
Lawmakers will vote Saturday night on whether to accept Karzai's offer.FULL STORY
The last U.S. brigade combat team in Iraq has left the country, a move that helps U.S. President Barack Obama reach his goal of
50,000 troops in the country by September 1.
Their departure leaves about 56,000 U.S. troops in the country, according to the U.S. military.
Capt. Christopher Ophardt, spokesman for the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, said the last of the 4,000 members of the unit crossed the border into Kuwait early Thursday.
The last U.S. brigade combat team has left Iraq, leaving 56,000 U.S. troops in the country, according to the U.S. military.
Another 6,000 troops must leave the country to meet President Barack Obama's September 1 deadline for the end of U.S. combat operations in the country and the beginning of Operation New Dawn.
In all, 50,000 U.S. forces are to remain in an advise-and-assist mission.