Hundreds quit Syria's ruling party to protest crackdown

More than 200 members have quit Syria's ruling Baath party to protest at President Bashar Assad's brutal crackdown on opponents, a human rights activist says.

The resignations came in the southern province at the centre of the uprising against the regime.



Mustafa Osso said another 30 resigned in the coastal city of Banias. Most were lower-rank members.



Even though they are still small in scope - the Baath party counts more than a million members in Syria - such walkouts were unimaginable before the uprising began.



Syria's uprising against Assad's authoritarian regime started in the southern city of Daraa, the provincial capital, on March 15.



Assad has tried to crush the revolt - the gravest challenge to his family's 40-year ruling dynasty.



More than 450 people have been killed across Syria in the crackdown, with 120 dead over the weekend.



The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul-Rahman, said today the latest updated death toll his group had was 454.



He said they have names of 68 soldiers who also died in the violence, raising the total to over 500.



He also said that since Wednesday, security forces carrying lists of wanted people have detained dozens around the country.



Daraa resident Abdullah Abazeid said military operations were continuing in the city today, with troops using heavy machine guns.



He added that snipers shot dead more people and that 42 have died since the military descended on Daraa on Monday.



Abazeid said the latest deaths include six-year-old girl Majd Rifai, hit by a sniper on the roof of her parents' apartment. He added that pro-government gunmen known as shabiha damaged a large numbers of shops in the city.



He said the city was still without telephones, electricity and water and lacked food and children's milk formula. Abazeid said some parents were giving their infants water and sugar for lack of powder milk.



Also today, nine Syrian human rights groups said authorities detained Rasim Atassi, senior member of the Arab organisation for Human Rights.



Syria has banned nearly all foreign media and restricted access to trouble spots since the uprising began, making it almost impossible to verify the dramatic events shaking the regime.



Two residents in Daraa said that at least five army officers had sided with demonstrators, and conscripted soldiers sent into the city were quietly refusing orders to detain people at checkpoints and were allowing some people through to get scarce supplies.



But the Syrian government denied that there had been any splits in the military, which is seen as fiercely loyal to Assad. The army also denied any defections.



Assad has blamed most of the unrest on a "foreign conspiracy" and armed thugs, not true reform-seekers.



Eyewitness accounts coming out of Syria have caused world leaders to increase their criticism of the Assad regime.



The governments of five European nations summoned Syrian ambassadors on Wednesday in a co-ordinated demand that Assad stop shooting at his people.



Germany said sanctions were possible if the crackdown did not ease, echoing remarks by Britain's foreign secretary a day earlier.



The UN Security Council failed to agree on a statement circulated by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal condemning the violence in Syria.



During consultations, several members - including Lebanon - indicated they were opposed, council diplomats said.



US officials have said Washington has begun drawing up targeted sanctions against Assad, his family and his inner circle.











Six tanks rolled into the northern port of Latakia - a key city in the heartland of Syria's ruling elite - and security forces opened fire on anti-government demonstrators wounding four, witnesses said.



Unrest in Latakia is significant because the province has strong historical ties to Assad's minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.



At least 14 people died in clashes in the city during the earlier days of the uprising.



In the Damascus suburb of Douma, security forces strengthened their control, fortifying checkpoints on roads into the area and setting up sand barriers, a resident said.



Troops were using heavy machine guns in an operation in Daraa today, said resident Abdullah Abazeid. He added that snipers killed more people and that 43 have died since the military descended on Daraa on Monday.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice