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Unrest: Middle East and North Africa, country by country

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- Countries in the Middle East and North Africa have been swept up in protests against longtime rulers since the January revolt that ousted Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In many cases, these demonstrations and movements have been met with brute force that has escalated into seemingly unending violence. Here are the latest developments from each country and information about the roots of the unrest.

SYRIA

Bouthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that the government is not trying to attack protesters, despite reports from human rights activists that hundreds have been killed in a months-long uprising and crackdown in the country.

"I think peaceful demonstrators have made their point, and they are making their point every day. We have no problem with that," Shaaban told CNN. "Security forces are there against armed groups. They are not there against peaceful demonstrators."

Rami Abdelrahman, head of the London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told CNN on Tuesday that 1,342 civilians and 343 security personnel have died since the protests erupted in mid-March.

A Syrian military spokesman said Sunday that more than 400 police officers and government troops and police have been killed battling "armed gangs."

Syria's embattled government allowed a group of activists and intellectuals, including some it had previously jailed, to hold a conference on democratic reform Monday at a Damascus hotel.

About 200 Syrian dissidents gathered in the hotel ballroom, including several signatories of a 2005 declaration that called for a democratic transition.

The Turkish government said Tuesday that 10,757 Syrian refugees have crossed the border. It also said 441 Syrians had returned on their own will in the past two days.

Security sources in Lebanon told CNN that about 1,000 Syrians have crossed into Lebanon near the town of Hermel.

Roots of unrest

The unrest began in mid-March after teens were arrested for writing anti-government graffiti in Daraa, according to Amnesty International. As the crackdown intensified, demonstrators changed their demands from calls for freedom and an end to abuses by the security forces to calls for the regime's overthrow. On April 19, Syria's Cabinet lifted an emergency law that had been in effect since 1963. But security forces then moved quickly to crack down. Government opponents allege massive human rights abuses.

LIBYA

The International Criminal Court is still trying to link Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, his son and his brother-in-law to rapes but it does not yet have enough evidence to do so, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Tuesday.

It has evidence that rapes have taken place in Libya's civil war, he said, but he cannot prove Gadhafi ordered them.

The court issued arrest warrants on other charges Monday for Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Sanussi. Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi is a close adviser to his father. His arrest warrant came two days after his 39th birthday. Al-Sanussi serves as Gadhafi's head of intelligence.

The warrants are "for crimes against humanity," including murder and persecution, "allegedly committed across Libya" from February 15 through "at least" February 28, "through the state apparatus and security forces," the court said in a news release.

The court is not asking international forces operating in Libya to arrest the suspects, Moreno-Ocampo said, explaining that Libya has the primary responsibility to do so as a United Nations member.

Libya is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the international court's authority, but Moreno-Ocampo said Tuesday it still had a responsibility to arrest Gadhafi and his allies because it is a member of the United Nations, which ordered the investigation. He said the rebels could also arrest Gadhafi and hand him over.

In rebel-held Misrata, where fighting has raged, a crowd cheered Monday following the announcement of the arrest warrants.

Roots of unrest

Protests in Libya started in February, when demonstrators, fed up with delays, broke into a housing project the government was building and occupied it. They quickly gained strength, and a movement to demand democracy and oust Gadhafi after more than four decades in power exploded into civil war. NATO began airstrikes in March after a U.N. Security Council mandate to protect civilians.

EGYPT

A Cairo administrative court ordered Tuesday the dissolution of local municipal councils that were elected under former President Hosni Mubarak.

Dismantling the local councils, seen as corrupt by many, was one of the major demands of the pro-democracy protesters whose demonstrations led to the departure of the president.

"The revolution will never be complete without dissolving the existing corruption-laden municipalities and reforming the system as a whole," said a statement issued by the Revolution Youth Coalition.

The Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces has announced that parliamentary elections will take place in September.

Roots of Unrest

Complaints about police corruption and abuses were among the top grievances of demonstrators who forced President Hosni Mubarak from office. Demonstrators also were angry about Mubarak's 30-year rule, a lack of free elections and economic issues, such as high food prices, low wages and high unemployment.

YEMEN

Abd al-Janadi, a Yemeni deputy information minister, told reporters President Ali Abdullah Saleh is in "good health" and "even the scratches and wounded that were reported to be on his face are no longer there."

"In days, we will see his face and hear his voice," he said, amid reports that he will soon appear on television.

Al-Janadi said that three recently kidnapped French humanitarian workers recently are still alive and security forces are continuing to look for them.

Roots of unrest

Inspired by the revolution in Egypt, demonstrators began protesting Saleh's 33-year-old regime on February 11. A month later, Saleh offered to draft a new constitution that would establish a parliamentary system, but protesters persisted in calling for his resignation, and numerous high-ranking political and military officials resigned or were dismissed. Saleh balked after making overtures to accept an agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council to step down, and fighting has escalated between security forces and opposition groups -- primarily tribal forces and Islamic militants -- since those efforts broke down in May.