Latest developments in Arab world’s unrest

Posted Sept. 08, 2011, at 11:14 p.m.

In Libya, Moammar Gadhafi urged his fighters to crush opponents he ridiculed as germs and rats, as loyalists fired at least 10 rockets from inside one of his last strongholds.

In contrast. the acting prime minister for Libya’s new rulers appealed for national unity to rebuild the country, while calling Gadhafi a figure of the past. Mahmoud Jibril said the battle for Libya is not over, with pockets still controlled by Gadhafi loyalists. Only after the whole country is “liberated,” he said, can a new government be formed.

Syrian security forces kept up a deadly crackdown on protesters as the embattled regime faced surprising calls to end the violence from its closest ally, Iran, in a sign of growing alarm over the 6-month-old uprising. In a live interview in Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Syrian President Bashar Assad should back away from his violent crackdown and talk to the opposition.

At least five civilians were killed in Yemen Wednesday and Thursday in military strikes in southern Yemen. Another 38 civilians were wounded in the military offensive against al-Qaida linked militants. Wounded civilians sought treatment at field clinics because government hospitals were closed.

In recent weeks, government troops, backed by U.S. airstrikes, have stepped up attacks on militants who have taken advantage of internal political turmoil to seize control of parts of southern Yemen. Officials said 17 militants and eight soldiers were killed Wednesday.

In Egypt, an ex-security officer testified in ousted leader Hosni Mubarak’s trial that his superiors ordered troops to forcefully disperse Egyptian protesters with tear gas, but he never heard orders to shoot at the protesters.

Mubarak and his security chiefs are facing charges of complicity in the deaths of protesters, a charge that could carry the death penalty. So far, testimony from witnesses has caused embarrassment to the prosecution. One witness was even briefly detained on perjury charges for changing his story under oath, denying in court that he had any knowledge of police receiving ammunition.

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