Yasser al-Nabelsi confessed to the Syrian television to killing and mutilating security forces in Nawa. The young man, born in 1983, had already been sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison for counterfeiting. He said he was recruited by Sheikh Khami three days after his release from prison.

The military operation in Dara’a “nears completion after fulfilling most of its goals,” an unidentified military source told the state news agency SANA yesterday.

’’The remaining armed terrorist members who terrorised people and left behind panic, destruction and killing in all neighborhoods were pursued,’’ the source said. ’’Scores were arrested and huge amounts of up-to-date weapons and ammunition in several places were confiscated, which helped bring back the sense of safety to the residents of the city.’’

The Facebook page ‘Syrian Revolution 2011’ called for this Friday to be the ‘Day of Confrontation’ while Syrian authorities make preparations for a possible new wave of demonstrations, reports Lebanese daily Ya Libnan.

Meanwhile, a report by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, headquartered in Doha, said sectarian “agitation has reached an advanced stage in mixed areas” but that Syrians in general have not fallen for it.

An official media campaign was launched last month with the motto “surround the symbols of sectarian strife.”

Refugees continue to cross the borders into Turkey and Lebanon, reports in several foreign media outlets confirm.

One elderly Syrian woman interviewed by the Palestine Chronicle in Wadi Khaled in northern Lebanon said: “We left Syria out of fear of the situation, but mainly for the children. They are traumatised from the sounds of gunshots, reports of deaths, and watching tanks driving into the streets”.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul, speaking on Monday, said Turkey is preparing to deal with a possible influx of refugees, saying authorities are taking measures to be ready for the worst-case scenario, reports Day Press News.

There are no entry restrictions on Syrians entering Turkey, following last year’s lifting of visa requirements by both countries.

In a single day, requests for purchasing dollars in Syria decreased by almost half from USD 51m to USD 27m, the Central Bank of Syria told the privately-owned Al-Watan newspaper.

On Wednesday Syria launched a string of measures to keep foreign currency in the country. For the first time savings accounts can be opened in UD dollars and Euros up to USD 120,000, but the accounts are frozen for six months, the bank told Agence France-Presse.

“This is to avoid speculation as customers were buying the dollar at the official rate of 47.5 pounds and sold it (in the black market) at 50 pounds,” said the director.

Syria’s foreign exchange reserves are estimated at USD 17bn.

Finally, yesterday was World Press Freedom Day, a day intended to remind governments of their duty to uphold freedom of expression under Article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights.

“In 2011, the focus of the celebration is on the potential of the Internet and digital platforms as well as the more established forms of journalism in contributing to freedom of expression, democratic governance, and sustainable development,” the World Press Freedom Day 2011 website said.

Lebanon topped the tables for press freedom in the Arab World, while Syria ranked 181st out of 196 countries surveyed, alongside war-ravaged Somalia.

According to the Associated Press, the detention of Al-Jazeera journalist Dorothy Parvaz has been acknowledged by the Syrian authorities.

Parvaz has not been heard from since taking a Qatar Airways flight to Damascus on Friday. Parvaz works for the English-language arm of the news network. She holds U.S., Iranian and Canadian citizenship and was once a reporter and columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Syria continues to hold several local and one foreign journalist – not including Parvaz – in a continuing crackdown on reporting on the unrest in the country since March, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Mohammed Hussein writing in Al-Watan said that the time is ripe for a new and transparent media law. “It’s our duty in the media to end the polerisation and work on reaching a dialogue to promote the real Syria,” wrote Hussein. “We must promote tolerance, love and an open dialogue,” he added.

Syria Today (Syria)

الخاص والعام في الانتفاضة الشعبية السورية الراهنة, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (30 pp., 830 Ko)