World

Unrest In North Africa, Middle East

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NATO air cover has allowed rebels fighting against Moammar Gadhafi's forces to gain ground in the eastern part of the country. Meanwhile in parts of Syria, protesters set fire to offices of the ruling Baath party.

GUY RAZ, host:

From NPR News, this is WEEKENDS ON ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.

The military campaign against Libya is now formally under the command of NATO. But most of the airstrikes are still being carried out by U.S. warplanes.

(Soundbite of fighter jets)

RAZ: These are sounds of American fighter jets taking off earlier today from Aviano Air Base in Italy. NATO air cover has allowed rebels fighting against Moammar Gadhafi's forces to gain ground in the eastern part of the country.

Meanwhile, in parts of Syria, protesters have set fire to offices of the ruling Baath Party. This comes just a day after at least 15 demonstrators were killed by Syrian troops in skirmishes across the country.

A short time ago, we spoke with reporter Phil Sands, who covers Syria for The National; that's a newspaper out of Abu Dhabi. And he says these demonstrations pose the biggest challenge to the Syrian regime since 1982.

Mr. PHIL SANDS (Journalist, The National): Yesterday, they pulled down a statue of the former president, Hafez al-Assad, who is the father of the current president, Bashar al-Assad - which is just unthinkable; it's absolutely unthinkable in Syria. And I spoke to a Syrian today who was sitting there watching, and he said, I never thought I'd see this in my lifetime.

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