Syria crisis: activists report ‘bloodiest day yet’ – live updates; the guardian; humanrescueintermedia

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Syria crisis: activists report ‘bloodiest day yet’ – live updates

Live• LCC claims 343 people were killed in a single day
• Cameron says Syrian bloodshed is a ‘terrible stain’ on UN
• Morsi warns against military intervention in Syria

A Free Syrian Army fighter holds a rocket-propelled grenade launcher while taking cover after a tank blast in Aleppo, Syria. Syria's unrest began in March 2011 when protests calling for political change met a violent government crackdown.A Free Syrian Army fighter holds a rocket-propelled grenade launcher while taking cover after a tank blast in Aleppo, Syria. Photograph: Manu Brabo/AP

Live

3m ago

Syria: ‘a death-feud between Islamists and Ba’athists’

The Syrian uprising is only the latest, if by far the most violent, episode in a long war between Islamists and Ba’athists, which dates back to the founding of the secular Ba’ath Party in the 1940s, veteran Middle East commentator Patrick Seale writes.

"The struggle between them is by now little short of a death-feud," he says.

Seale, who wrote a biography of President Assad’s father, does not deny that other grievances such as poverty and the regime’s brutality have contributed to the rebellion, "but beyond all this is the decades-long hostility of Islamists for Syria’s Ba’ath-dominated regime".

Today’s civil war – for that is what it has become – has deep roots in modern Syrian history. The rebellion has increasingly taken on an Islamist colouring, as the Swedish writer Aron Lund explains in an informative 45-page report on Syrian Jihadism, published this month by the Swedish Institute of International Affairs.

It is striking, as he points out, that virtually all the members of the various armed insurgent groups are Sunni Arabs; that the fighting has been largely restricted to Sunni Arab areas only, whereas areas inhabited by Alawis, Druze or Christians have remained passive or supportive of the regime; that defections from the regime are nearly 100% Sunni; that money, arms and volunteers are pouring in from Islamic states or from pro-Islamic organisations and individuals; and that religion is the insurgent movement’s most important common denominator.

41m ago

‘One of the bloodiest days yet’

Reuters is more slightly cautious than CNN over activists’ claims about Wednesday’s death toll. It cites the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claiming that more than 300 people were killed, "in one of the bloodiest days".

The British-based organisation, which monitors violence in Syria through a network of activists, said in a report released on Thursday that 55 people were killed in rural areas around Damascus. They included at least 40 who appeared to have been shot in cold blood in the town of al-Dhiyabia, south-east of the capital. Other activists have put the death toll in al-Dhiyabia as high as 107, blaming Assad’s security forces for what they said was a massacre.

Updated 5m ago

1h 7m ago

Summary

Welcome to Middle East Live. Syria continues to be the main focus after activists reported the highest daily death toll so far, and world leaders remain divided over the crisis at the UN.

Here’s a summary of the main developments:

Syria

The death toll in Syria reached 343 on Wednesday – the highest daily toll since uprising began, CNN reports citing the activist group, the Local Co-ordination Committees in Syria. Rafif Jouejati, a spokeswoman for the LCC, said: "The regime is escalating the violence at every possible opportunity and it is proof that it is determined to crush the revolution by any means necessary." The greatest number of dead on Wednesday occurred in Damascus and its suburbs, where LCC cited 162 deaths, including 107 in a reported massacre in Thiabieh.

Rebels have forced the Syrian air force to cease flights from a strategically significant airbase south of Aleppo, reports the New York Times from near the Abu ad Duhur base. Jamal Marouf, a commander credited by the fighters with downing the first MIG-21, said: “We are facing aircraft and shooting down aircraft with captured weapons. With these weapons we are preventing aircraft from landing or taking off.”

David Cameron has launched his strongest attack over UN inaction on Syria, declaring that the blood of young children is a "terrible stain" on the international body’s reputation. He used this week’s report by Save the Children, which said schools were being used as torture centres, to express exasperation with Russia and China which have blocked three UN security council resolutions on Syria. "The blood of these young children is a terrible stain on the reputation of this United Nations. And in particular, a stain on those who have failed to stand up to these atrocities and in some cases aided and abetted Assad’s reign of terror," the prime minister said.

Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, accused the Assad regime of "killing its people night and day" and called for a new Syria government representative of all the country’s ethnic and religious groups. But in his UN speech, he said there should not be outside military intervention, pointing instead to a new diplomatic initiative begun by Egypt, Turkey and Iran, and called on other nations to join it. Morsi’s comments contrasted with those of Qatari leader Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who called on Arab countries to bypass the UN and intervene directly in Syria. Morsi was also forced to cancel planned quartet talks at the UN on finding a diplomatic solution because of the absence of Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Syrian commentator Camille Otrakji, who describes himself as a "mild regime supporter" puts forward a power-sharing compromise deal for resolving the crisis. Under his transition plan, outlined on Bloggingheads TV, the opposition would appoint a prime minister following elections to be in charge of all domestic policy, but the current regime would retain responsibility for foreign policy, defence and security monitored by neighbouring countries. "If we get to that stage we have to recognise that the regime and the opposition will keep doing things that will disappoint people for a while. It will be a difficult process," Otrakji said.

Activists claimed that 40 people were killed when the rebel Free Syrian Army attacked an army headquarters in Damascus. The army said four guards were killed and 14 others wounded in what it said were suicide attacks. Analysts said the attack showed that the rebels continue to have the ability to strike at the heart of regime.

A correspondent for Iran’s Press TV was shot dead while reporting from the scene of devastating twin explosions in Damascus. Maya Nasser, a 33-year-old Syrian national, was killed after being hit by "insurgent" sniper fire, Press TV said.

Fred Hof, the US state department special representative on Syria, who described the Assad regime as a "dead man walking", has resigned, according to Foreign Policy magazine. The US Syria team will now be led solely by the ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, it said, citing administration sources.

Libya

The National Congress has threatened to dismiss Mustafa Abushagur as prime minister-elect if he fails to form a new government by an extended deadline of 7 October, the Libya Herald reports. The ultimatum follows a request by Abushagur to extend the period in which he can form a government by 10 days.

Updated 50m ago

  • © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
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