Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

AP News
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Posted: Jun 11, 2011 3:18 PM
Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

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SYRIA

Thousands of elite troops and tanks believed to be led by President Bashar Assad's brother seal off the entrances to the mostly deserted town of Jisr al-Shughour, near the border with Turkey. Soldiers loyal to the regime come under sniper fire as they approach.

Mutinous Syrian soldiers and police officers remain behind to fight against an expected all-out government assault, a resident says, and unarmed demonstrators are ready to fight "with their hands."

While the Syrian uprising is still far from an all out Libya-style insurgency, the mutiny in Jisr al-Shughour raises concerns the 12-week revolt is taking on a new dimension.

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YEMEN

Yemeni soldiers battle Islamic militants in an attempt to drive them from several southern towns under the control of hundreds of the fighters. The clashes kill 40 people on both sides, officials say. In a twist, the army commander leading the campaign is among several top military figures who have turned against the country's president and thrown their support behind the massive protest movement pushing for the autocratic leader's ouster.

The commanders accuse the president of trying to sow chaos and letting the southern towns fall into the hands of Islamic militants in an effort to persuade the U.S. and other Western powers that without him in charge, al-Qaida would take control of the country.

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LIBYA

Libyan rebels battle their way back into the major oil port of Zawiya, just 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Tripoli, forcing Moammar Gadhafi's troops to close the vital coast highway and key supply route from Tunisia. The renewed rebel offensive marks a significant rebound for opposition forces who were crushed and driven out of the city nearly three months ago.

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BAHRAIN

More than 10,000 demonstrators join Bahrain's first public rally in months as the leader of the Gulf nation's main Shiite political party urges backers to press ahead with peaceful protests for greater political rights after fierce crackdowns by security forces.

The Sunni monarchy controlling Bahrain allows the rally in a bid to ease tensions and open dialogue with Shiite-led groups. For opposition forces, the gathering is a chance to voice their demands and show resolve after facing relentless pressure from the Western-backed government, including martial law-style rules removed earlier this month.