Features include interactive map, in-depth stories, and more.Download now. »
The week's top five must-sees,
delivered to your inbox.
Syrian students vow to resume classes only after Assad is brought down, Saleh's forces continue bloody assault on demonstrators for third day, and Saudi Arabia backs counterterrorism strategy as Egypt calls for peaceful battle against terrorism.
Reuters | Mar 27
Syrian refugees at the Suleiman Shah relief camp in the city of Akcakale near the Turkish border, clashed with military police after a protest agai...
Libyan revolutionaries seize control of Sabha, surround Sirte [Al Jazeera, Qatar]
Presenter, Male #1 Our al-Jazeera correspondent quoted the revolutionaries' sources saying they have seized control of most parts of Sabha, including the city's airport and the main Qala'a landmark.
Presenter, Female #1 Our correspondent said the revolutionaries are facing pockets of fierce resistance in the city and added that ten rebel fighters were killed during the operation. In addition, several members of Gaddafi's battalions were captured.
Presenter, Male #1 The revolutionaries also gained control of the eastern, southern, and western entrances of the city of Sirte.
Presenter, Female #1 Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who remains in hiding, described the events unfolding in Libya as a "mockery." In an audiotape aired today, Gaddafi called on Libyans not to believe the news about the downfall of the regime.
Reporter, Female #2 "It's a difficult and dangerous battle in the cities representing Gaddafi's last strongholds." This is how the revolutionaries are describing the battles raging for control of the three cities remaining in Gaddafi's power. However, the promises of victory seem to be getting closer day by day. One thing is certain, that the revolutionaries gained control of the eastern, southern, and western entrances of the coastal city of Sirte. Here in Sirte, following the shelling of Gaddafi's battalions, the revolutionaries are listening to an audio message aired by NATO calling on Gaddafi fighters to surrender. The revolutionaries, who are mostly from Misurata and a few from Benghazi, are massing in preparation for the battle of Sirte, following their takeover of the city of Sultan nearly 40 kilometers east of Sirte. In southwestern Libya, the revolutionaries seized control of most parts of the city of Sabha, including the airport and the area of Qala'a, as confirmed by the Libyan military council's spokesman. The revolutionaries are cautiously advancing on the Bani Walid front in an attempt to spare bloodshed. The fierce battles are raging between the revolutionaries and Gaddafi's supporters in the city of Bani Walid. The area's steep and hilly terrain is helping Gaddafi fighters infiltrate the city. The decision to withdraw was made in consultation with rebel leaders in a bid to re-launch the attack. Meanwhile, the revolutionaries are continuing to pursue Gaddafi's supporters. Gaddafi's intelligence chief, Brigadier Bil Qassem al-Ab'aj, was captured in the area of Kufra, between Sabha and Um al-Araneb, as he was travelling with his family and aides onboard five four-wheel drive vehicles. Sources affiliated with the Desert Shield battalion in Benghazi said that more than 300 Gaddafi mercenaries have fled, and that ambushes were being set up to capture them. While the battles continue to rage across various Libyan fronts, the residents of some territories, such as Sirte, are enduring miserable living conditions. Many are living without water, electricity, or fuel. Some residents in southern Libya are forced to cross the desert to take their injured to Benghazi, and are making the 2,500 kilometer journey under harsh conditions.
Saleh's forces continue bloody assault on demonstrators for third day [Al-Alam, Iran]
Presenter, Female # 1 Our al-Alam correspondent in Yemen's capital Sanaa reported that at least seven people were martyred and 48 others were injured this morning in the continuous shelling of protestors by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's forces. Violent clashes also erupted between government forces and defected forces. Doctors in the field hospital of Taghyeer, or Change, Square appealed to international organizations and those concerned about Yemen to send medical equipment and aid.
Reporter, Male # 1 A dangerous escalationn and violent clashes have been witnessed in Yemen for days. After a quiet night, clashes erupted early this morning between government and defected forces in al-Zubayri Street in Sanaa, during which different types of weapons were used. Twenty-seven civilians were martyred yesterday by the gunfire of the regime. Local sources said government forces shelled the sites of those who defected, near Taghyeer Square in southern Sanaa, where elite Republican Guard units are deployed under the leadership of Ahmad, the eldest son of President Saleh. In Taiz, the second largest Yemeni city, four protestors were martyred in the shelling of a city street as 13 others were injured in night clashes between government soldiers and armed tribesmen across different neighborhoods. Ambulances carrying the injured and the bodies of the martyrs, along with the sound of their sirens, have become a familiar scene. As for hospitals and treatment centers in Sanaa and Taiz, they continue to receive the injured and the bodies of the martyrs. Hospitals are filled with the wounded but the bodies of martyrs are being thrown on the floor amid complaints by treatment centers that they are operating at maximum capacity night and day.
Guest, Male # 2 (Tareq Neeman, Doctor at Sanaa Hospital) The killing continues and the hospital is filled with the injured. Sadly, government forces are preventing the medics from getting to the filed hospitals.
Reporter, Male # 2 Journalists covering the protests were not spared from the regime's stray bullets despite its vow to protect them from attacks, in accordance with international law.
Guest, Male # 3 (Amir Urquuretll, Al-Jazeera News Journalist) The crime that occurred today, which was the targeting of a journalist, is an attempt to cover up the crimes that are being committed by the regime. It seems the regime believes it can hide the truth by killing photographers and targeting journalists.
Reporter, Male # 2 As Sanaa's streets are filled with blood, Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz met with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who praised the king's support of the Yemeni government. No other details were provided following the meeting. Observers say the authorities' escalation of the crackdown these days will raise the ceiling of the protestors' demands and close the door to any peaceful solution or potential resolution to the crisis rocking Yemen for months.
Syrian students vow to resume classes only after Assad is brought down [Future TV, Lebanon]
Presenter, Female # 1 Demonstrations demanding the downfall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime continue in response to the opposition's call to rally under the slogan "the day of loyalty to Hussein Harmoush." Meanwhile, 13 Syrians were killed by the gunfire of the security forces and shabeha in the cities of Homs, Daraa, Hama, and Latakia as tanks stormed the city of al-Kiswah in the countryside of Damascus. The International Federation for Human Rights issued a report on Syria, entitled "Bashar al- Assad: Criminal against Humanity." It warned the international community against the occurrence of additional crimes.
Reporter, Male # 2 Only a few hours separate one military operation from the next in Homs, in the center of the country. As soon as one neighborhood in the city is subjected to an attack by the regime's forces and shabeha, other neighborhoods erupt to ease the pressure on the former. Shortly afterward, these neighborhoods come under similar attacks. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights indicated that gunfire is ongoing in the neighborhoods of Baba Amro and al-Insha'at in Homs amid the closure of some roads and entrances to the city. The German Press Agency reported on activists saying they heard artillery shelling in Baba Amro as wide-ranging raids were being conducted in the city. Activists also reported that a number of defected soldiers blew up three tanks yesterday in al-Qahira roundabout in al-Bayada neighborhood in Homs and left the region with their weapons. Activists indicated that a large number of tanks are surrounding the city of al-Kiswah in the countryside of Damascus as the shabeha are randomly firing at anyone they encounter. The opposition called for a rally under what it referred to as "the day of loyalty to Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Harmoush." He is the first Syrian officer to have defected and is now detained by the Syrian regime. In response to that call, thousands of Syrians protested in many areas, confirming their determination to continue their revolution until the downfall of the regime. In this context, the Khaled ibn al-Walid Brigade, which consists of defected officers and members of the Syrian army, issued a statement online.
Guest, Male # 2 We condemn the arrest of Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Harmoush. We also ask the honorable members of the Syrian Arab Army to stand on the side of the people and to stop protecting Bashar al-Assad. Victory is near, God willing!
Reporter, Male # 2 Meanwhile, under the slogan of "no studying, and no teaching until the president is toppled," hundreds of students protested in the towns and cities of Damascus' countryside, Hama, and other provinces. The Local Coordination Committees of Syria reported that security forces fired to disperse a student protest in Idlib province's Saraqib that was calling for a general strike against studying. In addition, students held a protest in the town of Tiba, in the southern city of Daraa, and chanted against the regime. Activists posted a leaked video online that shows Syrian soldiers beating a demonstrator and forcing him to kiss their shoes.
Palestinians cautiously welcome statehood bid as Netanyahu calls for talks with Abbas [Dubai TV, UAE]
Presenter, Female #1 In an attempt to prevent the Palestinians from moving ahead with their quest for UN statehood recognition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to meet with him on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly's meeting. Netanyahu urged Abbas to start direct talks in New York, and resume negotiations in Jerusalem and Ramallah. Meanwhile, the Palestinian public seems to be mobilizing in support of the UN statehood bid, amid concerns over the issue of borders and whether the bid was a tactful move aimed at reviving the peace talks. Sheruk Asa'ad reports from Ramallah.
Reporter, Female #2 On the Palestinian street, public opinion fluctuates between optimism and pessimism. The vast majority of Palestinians believe the UN bid is an important move regardless of its outcome.
Guest, Male #1 It's our right to knock on all doors. It's also our right to have a Palestinian state. Asking for a state is not a charity. The Palestinian people paid for it with blood, lives, and many tragedies.
Guest, Male #2 This is our decision and the president's decision, and it must be made under any circumstances.
Guest, Female #3 We demand our rights. We must prove ourselves, whether they agree or disagree with us.
Guest, Male #3 It's enough. The past 20-years of talks would have solved the Palestinian problem if we had people honestly working to resolve it.
Reporter, Female #2 On the other hand, some Palestinians expressed fear that the move may negatively affect the role of the PLO as an observer at the UN General Assembly and the refugees' right of return. Many were hoping the bid would include all issues as opposed to merely borders.
Guest, Male #4 The plight is not limited to Ramallah and Nablus. It's the plight of the Palestinian refugees who were expelled from their land.
Guest, Male #5 I'm from Haifa, and I will not accept any solution short of guaranteeing me the right of return.
Reporter, Female #2 Some still fear that the UN bid may be nothing more than a bargaining chip to resume talks.
Guest, Male #6 (Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative) If it's a tactful move, then it will bring nothing but disappointment and despair. However, if it's a strategic move, then it will open a new horizon for the Palestinian people. Most importantly, we must exit this dark tunnel of stalled and useless negotiations.
Reporter, Female #2 So, the Palestinian front is fluctuating between optimism, caution, and fear. On the ground, there is a series of peaceful mobilizations in support of the Palestinian leadership. The Palestinian mobilization, whether on the ground or inside UN corridors, is peaceful.In conjunction, the Israeli response seems to be escalating with the launch of campaigns by the army and settlers. The Israeli army has launched what it referred to as "Operation Summer Seeds." The army is mobilizing and training its forces in West Bank settlements, similar to these scenes of staged Palestinian protests and settlers' counter-attacks.
Guest, Male #7 (Hassan al-Bala'wi, Coordinator of National Campaign for Sate of Palestine) The goal of the occupation authorities is to drag our people into this square, where there will be protests and shooting. They are trying to show that the Palestinian National Authority's UN bid is inflexible.
Reporter, Female #2 The Palestinians formed "protective" groups in West Bank cities and villages in an attempt to document settlers' attacks, with the hopes that one day after the UN bid their direction will be toward the International Criminal Court. Sheruk Asa'ad, Dubai TV, the West Bank.
Expert discusses meaning of Netanyahu's New York visit [IBA, Israel]
Joining us now in the studio to discuss the Palestinian drive for statehood is Hebrew University Political Science Professor Avraham Diskin. Let's start with the Prime Minister's trip, he really does have his work cut out for him. But what is behind his initiative to go to New York at this time? Do you believe, politically speaking, he's hoping that his presence may influence some of the member states' votes? Or is this more of a show of support and a public relations gesture more than anything else? Diskin: First of all, I don't think that it will just be a speech. I think there will be discussions between him and other leaders, etc. We have to remember he has some background with the UN. He was our ambassador to the UN, and I believe he did quite a good job at the time before he actually became a politician. So really it's an arena of propaganda and I think he does have scale on that arena. It's an opportunity to meet other people, leaders of the world.
Former Afghan President Rabbani assassinated [Press TV, Iran]
In Afghanistan, former President Burhanuddin Rabbani has been assassinated in a blast at his house in the capital Kabul. Five others have also been killed in the explosion which police say happened inside Rabbani's house. Police blame the Taliban for the blast, saying a bomber detonated his explosives concealed in his turban. The Taliban have not yet commented. The explosion near the US embassy rocked Kabul's heavily guarded diplomatic enclave known as the Green Zone.
Saudi Arabia backs counterterrorism strategy as Egypt calls for peaceful battle against terrorism [Press TV, Iran]
While a week of high level meetings on a number of subjects have gotten underway at the United Nations, one key symposium dealt with international cooperation on counterterrorism. The United Nations was prepared for anything on Monday as foreign ministers and leaders from around the world gathered to talk key issues, including women in politics, disease, and crucially counterterrorism. The environment was appropriate for the counterterrorism discussion as no one without proper credentials was safe from scrutiny. Little more than a week after the tenth anniversary of 9/11, US Attorney General Eric Holder tried to differentiate between the policies of his boss, American President Barack Obama and Obama's predecessor George W. Bush.
Syrian TV: Women sexually abused in Turkish camps [Press TV, Iran]
Syrian state TV has aired footage of several women claiming they were battered and sexually abused in camps in Turkey. They said dozens of women were subjected to physical and sexual abuse in Turkey camps. The women said armed groups forced them to leave their homes during unrest in Syrian towns and sent them to neighboring Turkey. Some of the victims even claimed armed men sold them to Turkish soldiers.
Kurdish opposition parties convene to support Syrian Kurds' demands [Alsumaria, Iraq]
Presenter, Male #1 In Sulaymaniyah, 11 Kurdish opposition parties attended a conference during which they affirmed their support for the Syrian Kurds' demands. Political observers believe that this position is a clear announcement that the Kurds intend to move forward in realizing their dream of establishing their state of Great Kurdistan.
Reporter, Female #1 In the opinion of anti-regime Syrian Kurds, the downfall of Assad's regime will not take long. The goal of the conference organized by 11 opposition Kurdish parties in Sulaymaniyah was to establish their demands, which include Kurdish independence after the regime change. They affirmed that the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan support these demands.
Guest, Male #2 (Jamaidan Kamal, Syrian Kurdish Dissident) We want a decentralized Syria with pluralism. For example, Syria can be transformed into a federal system, in which every state governs itself, which guarantees the rights of the Kurdish ethnicity.
Guest, Male #3 (Shirzad al-Yezidi, Syrian Kurdish Dissident) We propose the coexistence of these states, not the division of our nation, based on the principle that we have the right to decide our own fate, and the right to independence in Iraqi Kurdistan and other areas. People across the region support the Syrian Kurds in gaining their rights and benefiting from democratic transformation.
Reporter, Female #1 The Syrian Kurds' ceiling of demands did not stop here. They are not ruling out the possibility that the next Syrian president may be Kurdish, like in Iraq.
Guest, Male #4 (Sami Dawud, Syrian Kurdish Dissident) For instance, the next president could be Kurdish. There should be no limitation on the president's gender or ethnicity, like in Iraq. The political experiment would fail if we were to put restrictions on the ethnicity of the president.
Reporter, Female #1 But the Syrian Kurds criticized what they referred to as "the marginalization of media, and the Syrian Arabs' opposition to the Kurds' role" in the mobilization against Assad's regime.
Guest, Male #2 The Arab opposition began gradually distancing itself from the Kurdish group in Syria, and marginalized it in one way or another.
Guest, Male #5 (Jan Yazid, Syrian Kurdish Dissident) There is a large number of Kurds participating in the revolution in Syria and the Syrian Kurdistan region. However, the media doesn't focus on this Kurdish mobilization.
Reporter, Female #1 While some political observers describe the Kurdish position on the events in Syria as "hasty," others believe it means they intend to move forward in achieving their dream of establishing the Great Kurdistan state, which would include all Kurdish regions in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. Rana Ahmad, al-Sumariya, Sulaymaniyah.