Syrian forces shell a town in the country's restive north and open fire on scattered protests nationwide, killing at least 21 people, activists say. Hundreds of Syrians stream across the border into Turkey, trying to escape the violence. A Syrian opposition figure told The Associated Press by telephone that thousands of protesters overwhelmed security officers and torched the courthouse and police station in the northern town of Maaret al-Numan, and the army responded with tank shells. The man spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Syria's state-run television appear to confirm at least part of the report, saying gunmen opened fire on police stations in Maaret al-Numan, causing casualties among security officials.
Nearly 100,000 Yemenis protest in a main square of the capital, demanding the president's ouster in the biggest rally since Ali Abdullah Saleh left for Saudi Arabia after he was wounded in an attack on his palace. Saleh's evacuation for medical treatment has thrown Yemen into a dangerous political standoff, with opponents insisting he now be pushed completely out of power and his allies seeking to preserve his rule. Saleh was wounded in a blast that hit a mosque where he was praying in his presidential palace on June 3. Badly burned, Saleh was rushed to Saudi Arabia for treatment along with a number of top officials from his regime who also were wounded in the blast.
Libyan government forces pound the outskirts of the rebel-held city of Misrata, killing at least 22 people, a hospital physician says. The doctor at Hikma Hospital, who would only give his first name, Ayman, said Moammar Gadhafi's forces used tanks, artillery and incendiary rockets in the bombardment of Dafniya, about 18 miles (30 kilometers) west of Misrata. He said at least 61 people are wounded in the attacks which began about 10 a.m. local time. Gadhafi forces had renewed their shelling near Misrata on Wednesday. The city is one of the few footholds rebels have in western Libya and controls the country's largest port.
Bahrain's most senior Shiite cleric says there is no chance for talks with the Gulf nation's Sunni rulers while security forces maintain their clampdown on protesters calling for equal rights and political freedoms. The sermon by Sheik Isa Qassim underscores the deep discontent among Bahrain's Shiite majority despite the lifting of martial law-style rules earlier this month and appeals for dialogue by the Sunni monarchy. It also marks another blow to the ruling establishment after organizers of Bahrain's prestigious Formula One race called off efforts to reschedule the 2011 event, which was canceled in March amid the unrest.
About a thousand protesters return to Baghdad's Tahrir Square. Many protesters there and in other cities around the country opposed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's decision to not fire anyone in his Cabinet after this week's expiration of a self-imposed 100-day deadline for reforms. Al-Maliki had promised to purge his government of corruption and dysfunction and provide more electricity and better public services, but the deadline passed earlier this week with little fallout.