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The Observers

Violent militias in Syria, Gbagbo's last remaining bastion, and flaring tensions in Tibet

This weeks our Observers tell us about the secret militias that operate alongside Syrian armed forces to repress the popular uprising. They also describe the situation in the Ivory Coast neighborhood of Yopougon, Gbagbo's last remaining bastion, and report the hushed-up police crackdown in Tibet.

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STORY 1: SYRIA

Since the unrest began, Syrian web users have been talking about the role of pro-regime militias which are violent gangs acting to protect the ruling Assad family. Our Observer explains what they've been doing, and what they have at stake. Syria's state media deny that the militias are involved in the violence. But it's impossible for us to confirm it either way, because the government is not letting journalists cover the unrest.

OBSERVER: Mohamed Abdallah in Banias, in the West of Syria.

STORY 2: IVORY COAST

Since the arrest of ousted president Laurent Gbagbo, troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the elected president, have taken control of virtually all of the country. But there's one pocket of Abidjan, where Gbagbo's supporters have been holding out.

OBSERVER: Lookman (not his real name) in the neighbourhood of Yopougon, in Abidjan.

STORY 3: TIBET

Ever since riots broke out in 2008, the Chinese government has kept Tibetan areas off-limits for foreign journalists. But amateur journalists have managed to keep the information flowing, thanks to their mobile phones.

OBSERVER: Zorgyi, a Tibetan activist who lives in India.

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