Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

AP News
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Posted: May 20, 2011 2:07 PM
Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

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SYRIA

Syrian security forces open fire on protests around the country in the latest sign the conflict could be moving toward a long and bloody stalemate as President Bashar Assad shrugs off tighter sanctions and U.S. calls to step aside. Human rights activists say at least 27 people are killed, including a 10-year-old boy.

The clashes indicate neither side appears able to tip the scales in the two-month uprising.

Witnesses report protests in the central cities of Homs and Hama; outside the capital of Damascus, and the Mediterranean ports of Banias and Latakia.

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LIBYA

NATO fighter jets strike three ports in bombing runs overnight, targeting Moammar Gadhafi's navy in an effort to protect the nearby rebel-held port of Misrata, NATO says. It is the broadest attack on Libya's naval forces since the alliance joined the conflict on March 19.

NATO accuses Libya of using its ships in the escalating conflict, including attempts to mine the harbor in Misrata. Rebels trying to end the nearly 40-year rule of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi have been struggling to hold Misrata against repeated attacks by Gadhafi's forces.

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EGYPT

Military prosecutors summon and then release the editor and two journalists of an independent newspaper for reporting on an alleged deal to offer amnesty to ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

The report in El-Shorouk newspaper sparked a wave of criticism and a quick denial from the military rulers.

The three journalists are released after they sign a pledge agreeing not to report on issues involving the armed forces that might cause "confusion" in the streets.

Bringing Mubarak to trial has become a rallying point for protesters, who turned out in Tahrir Square by the hundreds Friday to express their frustration at the failure by the military council to bring about real democratic change.

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YEMEN

Yemen's embattled president snubs a U.S.-backed Gulf Arab plan to remove him from power and instead calls for new elections _ a move unlikely to end the months of mass street protests demanding his ouster. The announcement by Ali Abdullah Saleh dashes hopes for a quick end to the crisis in the Arab world's poorest country, also home to one of al-Qaida's most dangerous branches.

As Saleh speaks to a crowd of supporters near his presidential palace, hundreds of thousands of his opponents gather in a nearby square to calling for his immediate departure.