President Bashar al–Assad offered to lift a draconian state of emergency that has been in force in the country since 1963 after more than 20,000 protesters marched through the southern city of Daraa yesterday, defying a crackdown by the regime's forces.
The president, who inherited control of Syria when his father died, boasted recently that his country was immune to the protests sweeping across the Middle East and north Africa.
But yesterday he started to talk of political reform and press freedom just as other embattled leaders have done.
A resident of Daraa said the town was full of troops, everything was closed and the streets were empty. Protesters have called for more demonstrations today.
In Libya, coalition forces stepped up their action against the military assets of Col Muammar Gaddafi.
A French fighter jet destroyed the first Libyan warplane to breach the no–fly zone. The plane was destroyed as it came in to land after being spotted flying near the city of Misurata in violation of the UN resolution.
Forces loyal to Col Gaddafi were in negotiations to surrender to rebel troops near the town of Ajdabiya in what could be a turning point in the conflict, it was reported last night. A rebel commander said local mullahs had been used to mediate.
Nato also agreed to take over control of military operations in Libya from the US this weekend after Britain appealed to allies to put a quick end to the "appalling violence" in the country. A spokesman for the Gaddafi government in Tripoli, meanwhile, claimed that civilian casualties were close to 100.
In Yemen, the veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh was reported to be discussing a deal under which he would resign within days in favour of a transitional government after weeks of unrest.
via Syria's Ba'athist regime forced to offer concessions - Telegraph.