Saturday, February 2, 2013 | Scott Lucas in EA Live, EA Middle East and Turkey, Middle East and Iran

1505 GMT: Opposition Meeting in Munich. head of the Syrian National Coalition Moaz Al-Khatib, US Vice President Joe Biden, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and UN Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, will all meet together in Munich today — sort of. Apparently, they will not all meet at the same time because Lavrov refuses such a meeting. What’s interesting, however, is that is seems Lavror may meet with Opposiotion leader al Khatib, but he seems to be suggesting that he won’t do that with Joe Biden in the room.

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, head of the Syrian National Coalition Moaz Alkhatib, U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a round of meetings – but apparently not all at the same table, as the opposition had hoped…

“Media reports of a meeting in Munich in the format of Lavrov-Biden-Brahimi and Syrian opposition representative Alkhatib do not correspond with reality,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said.

Russia’s Interfax news agency cited a Russian source as saying that Lavrov would meet Alkhatib.

1450 GMT: Death Toll Reaches 53. 53 people have been killed so far today nationwide, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria:

28 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its Suburbs, 12 martyrs in Aleppo, 4 martyrs in Hama, 3 martyrs in Idlib, 2 martyrs in Deir Ezzor, 2 martyrs in Homs, 1 martyr in Daraa and 1 martyr in Banyas.

See our note on the casualty figures published by the LCC.

1245 GMT: The Insurgent Commander. C.J. Chivers of The New York Times profiles Abdulkader al-Saleh, a.k.a. Hajji Marea, the commander of the Al Tawhid Brigade fighting in Aleppo.

Not long after the uprising began, he joined with neighbors and relatives to organize demonstrations against what he described as the government’s repression.

When the fighting began, and rebels formed underground cells to plan ambushes, make bombs and persuade government soldiers to defect, Mr. Saleh’s standing grew. People spoke of a successful commander who was honest, organized and almost serenely calm under fire.

In many quarters his identity remained unknown. “We were secretive,” he said. “The public knew there was someone named Hajji Marea who led the demonstrations. But nobody knew who he was.”

0945 GMT: Aleppo. After days of fighting, insurgents have taken the Sheikh Saeed district of Aleppo, according to a resident and activists.

“Rebel fighters seized total control of Sheikh Saeed in southern Aleppo, after troops exhausted by 48 hours of fighting withdrew from the district,” the resident said. “Most neighbourhood residents fled the area after rebels took control.”

Sheikh Saeed is on a key route linking Syria’s largest city to its international airport. Activists said the takeover also severed regime forces’ access to a military airfield.