Syria's security forces fire on protesters: March 25 Mideast update

Syria makes rare concessions, but fires on protesters in Deraa. NATO takes control of implementing the no-fly zone over Libya as rebels struggle to retake Ajdabiya. Saleh looks to be stepping down (really). Bahrain's Shiites vow to defy protest ban.

Anja Niedringhaus/AP
Libyan men attend Friday prayers in the main square in Benghazi, eastern Libya, Friday, March 25. The city saw many casualties during recent fighting in and around the city of Ajdabiya, where rebels clash now for weeks with troops of Muammar Qaddafi.

Check back weekday mornings for a quick tally of the latest developments in the Middle East and North Africa.


Syrian protesters staged a "Day of Dignity" Friday, holding demonstrations across the country, including the capital of Damascus. Al Jazeera reports that about 200 people turned out there to show their support for protests that have been taking place all week in the southern city of Deraa, where security forces opened fire on protesters today and dozens have already died in clashes. Meanwhile, the government began making concessions, including lifting the state of emergency that has been in place since 1963.


NATO has taken control of implementing Libya's no-fly zone, while French and British forces retain responsibility for carrying out strikes against military targets. France announced that Libyan airspace was "under control" of allied forces. Meanwhile, after nearly a week of international support, rebels are still struggling to retake the eastern city of Ajdabiya. Allied forces attempted to give some breathing room to the rebels by striking Qaddafi's troops that are shelling the city.


Protesters in Sanaa took a rare step back Friday in order to give room for political negotiations to progress. Negotiators are attempting to work out a transfer of power from President Ali Abdullah Saleh that could see him step down within days, though the transition could well take longer. On Friday, President Saleh said he would be willing to transfer his power on the condition that it went into "safe hands."


Protesters in Bahrain are planning to hold protests Friday – the first large protests since Saudi Arabia sent in troops to help put down the demonstrations and the Bahraini government declared a state of emergency. In response to the plans, security was ramped up in Shiite villages and in and around the capital of Manama.

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