World News Brief, Tuesday March 20

Syrian forces clash with non-violent protesters in Damascus, after further car bombing; East Timor President Jose Ramos Horta defeated in election; five men suspected of terrorist links killed by police in Bali; four shot dead in Toulouse; dozens arrested as Occupy Wall Street movement reaches six months; Pakistan PM refuses to write letter on graft charges; and more

Top of the Agenda: Clashes in Damascus

Syrian security forces on Sunday beat and temporarily detained protesters marching on the streets of Damascus (NYT) with a nonviolent Syrian opposition group, the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change in Syria, after demonstrators called for the "fall of the regime." The expanded crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad's security forces came as a deadly car bomb exploded in the city of Aleppo, a day after similar bombings went off in Damascus. No group has claimed responsibility for the bombings. On Monday morning, heavy fighting between Syrian rebels and opposition forces (Reuters) broke out in a Damascus neighborhood.


Months after the uprising against him erupted in March last year, many Syrians still entertained the hope of a miracle transformation in Mr Assad. Perhaps the revolution was his opportunity to push aside the nasty men in his regime, including his brother Maher, a top military chief, they figured. They were dismayed to see the president defending the brutality of his security forces and insisting that they were fighting terrorists," writes the Financial Times' Roula Khalaf.

"And one year on from the first protest--which soon spread south to Deraa where people rallied in support of dozens of children tortured for writing anti-Assad graffiti--Assad is still at the helm, challenging the 'Arab Spring' narrative of people power and defying predictions that his days are numbered," writes Reuters' Dominic Evans.

"Both activists and analysts agree that the best possible solution would be a kind of internal coup, where Alawites and other regime stalwarts start to pull their support. Already there have been signs of cracks. The Druze minority sect has started to stand against the regime, as have significant numbers of Christian priests and leaders who have historically stood with the regime," writes TIME's Aryn Baker.



East Timor President Defeated

East Timor President Jose Ramos Horta conceded defeat in Sunday's presidential election after coming in third place. He vowed to step down in May (al-Jazeera) following a runoff election between the two remaining candidates.

INDONESIA: Police conducted two raids on the island of Bali on Sunday, killing five men suspected of planning robberies to fund terrorist acts (BBC).



Four shot dead in Toulouse; same gun used to kill soldiers last week

Dozens arrested as Occupt Wall St marks six months

Pakistan PM refuses to write letter on graft charges


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