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Recap of developments in Middle East

27 march 2011, 17:39
AFP's summary of the latest developments in the unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa in the past 24 hours:

LIBYA: Rebels fighting forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi recapture the key oil town of Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad, a hamlet another 50 kilometres (30 miles) to the west as they thrust towards Kadhafi's hometown Sirte.

- The port city of Misrata needed outside help from coalition jets and humanitarian groups because of attacks by Kadhafi forces, rebels said.

- Kadhafi's delegation to African Union talks in Addis Ababa said Tripoli is ready to implement an AU roadmap to resolve the Libyan crisis, while also demanding a halt to the Western-led coalition's military intervention.

- US President Obama defended US intervention in Libya, saying: "It's in our national interest to act, and it's our responsibility..."

SYRIA: Syria freed 260 political detainees in the biggest overture yet to protesters demanding reform, with President Bashar al-Assad facing unprecedented domestic pressure.

- Syrian troops entered the northern city of Latakia where snipers killed four people.

- Several thousand attend funerals of three protesters in Tafas, north of Daraa. A police station and Baath party office in Tafas are torched.

- The European Union condemns Syria's "violent repression of protesters," while UN human rights chief Navi Pillay warns that the crackdown risked plunging Syria into a spiral of violence.

YEMEN: The ruling party of embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he should serve out his term until 2013, after he offered to hand over power but only to "safe hands," warning only dialogue can prevent civil war.

- Yemen released three southern opposition leaders jailed for a month.

- In the south, the army killed six suspected Al-Qaeda members.

- Suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen killed six soldiers in an attack on a military convoy in the province of Marib, east of Sanaa.

JORDAN: Jordan's Islamist opposition, leftists and trade unions demanded the ouster of Prime Minister Maaruf Bakhit, blaming him for violence that has killed one person and injured 160.

BAHRAIN: Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned "intervention" in Shiite-majority Bahrain by its Sunni neighbours risked a regional sectarian war.

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