The Syrian army shells a border town, sparking gunbattles that kills at least eight people, and the government condemns U.S. sanctions targeting President Bashar Assad for the brutal crackdown that has killed more than 850 people. Talkalakh, a town of some 70,000 people near the border with Lebanon, is known to be a smuggling area where many residents are armed. It has been a hotbed of dissent during the two-month uprising against Assad's autocratic rule.
Moammar Gadhafi's forces rocket rebel fighters in the formidable strongholds and training camps they have built up in the strategic mountain heights southwest of the Libyan capital. The two sides appear to be fighting for control of the two highways to the north and south of the Nafusa mountain range, which slices across the desert south of Tripoli to the western border with Tunisia. Rebels, in particular, have used the road, bringing in supplies for camps to train fighters for what they hope will be a future push on the capital.
Egyptian authorities continue to restrict freedom of assembly, torture detainees and try civilians in military courts, highlighting the urgent need for reform, Amnesty International says. Egypt's military rulers announce that they are suspending prison sentences for 120 people who participated in protests following the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. Clashes break out between Muslims and Christians over the reopening of a Cairo church the former regime closed years ago.
A Bahrain security court sentences a prominent Shiite cleric and eight others to 20 years in prison for the alleged kidnapping of a police officer. The sentences come during a crackdown by the ruling Sunni dynasty against Shiite-led protesters who have been demonstrating to demand greater freedoms. Western leaders have strongly condemned Bahrain for the crackdown.
Western security officials worry crucial intelligence on terror groups in North Africa will dry up as repressive _ but effective _ security services are dismantled or reorganized following the Arab revolts. Those concerns, expressed by European and Israeli intelligence officers in interviews with The Associated Press, add urgency to reports of foreign fighters with suspected al-Qaida crossing into Tunisia.