(Reuters) - Here are details of some of the protests against governments in the Middle East and North Africa.
* SYRIA — Syrian forces shot dead nine protesters on Friday as thousands of people called on President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
— Some of Syria’s leading intellectuals called on June 27 for sweeping political change, at a rare conference allowed by the authorities under pressure from the uprising. The government also announced it would invite opposition figures to July 10 talks to set the framework for a dialogue promised by Assad.
— Protests against Assad’s rule erupted three months ago in conservative rural Sunni regions and spread to Damascus and the commercial hub of Aleppo. Rights groups have said more than 1,300 civilians have been killed. At least 10,000 people have been detained.
— On June 20, in his third speech since the start of the uprising, Assad again promised reforms but these were seen by opponents and world leaders as too little and too late.
— Last month the first possible cracks in the military appeared when clashes in the city of Jisr al-Shughour killed around 120 security personnel. Syria again sent the army in to restore order, but the population fled to Turkey. Turkish officials said around 10,000 refugees crossed from Syria.
— On April 21 Assad lifted Syria’s 48-year state of emergency and abolished a hated state security court.
* LIBYA — Libyan rebels who had advanced to within 80 km (50 miles) of Muammar Gaddafi’s stronghold in the capital, Tripoli, were forced to retreat on Friday after coming under a barrage of rocket fire from government forces.
— The rebels’ advance five days ago to the outskirts of the small town of Bir al-Ghanam had raised the possibility of a breakthrough in the four-month old conflict - the bloodiest of the “Arab Spring” uprisings.
— France announced on June 29 it provided weapons, munitions and food to rebels in the Western Mountains to prevent loyalist troops from overrunning the region.
— Gaddafi himself had an arrest warrant slapped on him by the International Criminal Court on June 27. The ICC also issued warrants for his son Saif al-Islam and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, all on charges of crimes against humanity.
— On the diplomatic front, as of June 29, 22 countries have now recognized the National Transitional Council as legitimately representing the Libyan people.
* YEMEN — Thousands of Yemenis turned Friday prayers into rallies for and against President Ali Abdullah Saleh who is recovering from injuries sustained in an assassination attempt last month. He left for Saudi Arabia on June 4 for treatment.
— The day before, Saleh vowed to overcome Yemen’s crisis, signaling once again he had no plans to quit.
— Yemen has been largely quiet with a ceasefire in place since Saleh was injured. Saleh had left the capital after two weeks of heavy fighting between his forces and tribesmen in which over 200 people were killed and thousands fled. More than 400 people have been killed, since the uprising began in January to end Saleh’s nearly 33 years in power.
* BAHRAIN — Bahrain launches a national dialogue on Saturday but majority Shi’ites are skeptical the Sunni King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa is willing to offer concessions that could heal wounds caused by the crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
— However with protests erupting daily in the Shi’ite villages around the capital Manama, opposition groups complain they are under-represented at the meeting and warn democratic reforms must come quickly to avoid more unrest.
— The leading Shi’ite opposition party, Wefaq, which has not decided if it will attend the dialogue, has warned it might not be able to hold back protesters if talks prove fruitless.
— The Gulf Arab state crushed the democracy protest movement in March, having brought in troops from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to help.
* EGYPT — Police in Cairo fired tear gas on June 29 at hundreds of stone-throwing youths after clashes that injured more than 1,000 people, the worst violence in the capital for weeks.
— Nearly five months since the popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s military rulers have struggled to keep order while a restless public is still impatient for reform.
— Activists are calling for a mass protest on July 8 to press demands for swifter reforms, including calls by some for the constitution to be rewritten before any elections.
— Mubarak himself is to stand trial on August 3 for the killing of protesters, however his defense lawyer said on June 20 he was suffering from cancer.
— Egypt’s military, in charge since the 18-day popular revolt that ousted Mubarak on February 11 and killed 840 demonstrators, moved swiftly to amend the constitution and set a September date for parliamentary elections.
TUNISIA — A Tunisian court on June 20 sentenced former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in absentia to 35 years in jail, six months after his overthrow in a revolution that helped to inspire the “Arab Spring.” Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14 after 23 years in power.
Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit;