Thursday, April 28, 2011
Syrian Baath members resign in protest against violent supression of demonstrations
Some 200 members of Syria's ruling Baath party are reported to have resigned over the violent crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrations.after issuing an angry public statement denouncing the repression.The resignations - mostly from around Deraa - follow those of 30 Baath officials from the coastal city of Baniyas, north-west of Damascus. Diplomats said signs were also emerging of differences within the army where the majority of troops are Sunni Muslims, but most officers belong to Assad's minority Alawite sect.
Shooting was heard in Deraa overnight, where the government this week sent tanks and troops to regain control. On Thursday, witnesses said that water, communications and power in Deraa had been cut off.
Other reports said tanks rolled into Latakia, north of Damascus, on Wednesday night and security forces fired on pro-democracy demonstrators. Furthermore dozens of people have reportedly been arrested in the town of Madaya outside the Syrian capital, Damascus. Residents said tanks rolled into the mountain town early on Thursday morning and that checkpoints had been set up at all entrances into the town.
"We are terrified here and don't understand why this is happening," an eyewitness told Al Jazeera. "There were no plans for protests today and neither had any protests been held in the city in the past two days."
Meanwhile, the UN failed to agree on a statement condemning the crackdown. A draft proposed by France, Britain, Germany and Portugal was opposed by several states within the 15-member Security Council, with Russia insisting events in Syria were not a threat to international peace.
The mayor of the Lebanese border town of al-Buqaya told Reuters that more than 1,500 people - mostly women and children - had crossed over from the town of Tell Kalakh.
Human rights activists in Syria say at least 500 people have died in six weeks of protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Protesters have called for Friday to be a Day of Rage throughout the country. They are clearly hoping for a record turnout, though some opposition Facebook postings expect the regime to try to minimise the bloodshed to present a better image as Europe and the West consider sanctions.