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Syrian ruling party members defect en masse

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As of Thursday, more than 400 people had been killed since protests erupted, according to figures from various human rights organizations in Syria. In a separate statement, 30 Baath party members in the coastal town of Banias announced their resignation, the Wall Street Journal reported:

"Considering the breakdown of values and emblems that we were instilled with by the party and which were destroyed at the hand of the security forces … we announce our withdrawal from the party without regret," a letter by 30 party members from Banias said. The letter described the indiscriminate use of live ammunition and pervasive home raids in their city.

There were also unconfirmed reports that members of the Syrian Army refused to fire on protesters and clashed with the Fourth Mechanized Division, an elite Army unit led by Maher Al Assad, President Bashar Al Assad's brother, according to the Guardian. A split in the Army "would present an unprecedented challenge to the Assad regime's four-decade rule and cast serious doubt on its ability to survive," The Christian Science Monitor reported on Monday, after similar clashes in Deraa.

But while dissent appears to be crystallizing in Syria, the international community has made little progress on collective action against the Assad regime, which has steadily refused to cease using violence against protesters.

Efforts to pass a United Nations Security Council statement condemning the violence remains stalled by the refusal of several members, including Russia, to support it. Russia has veto power on the council and blocked the statement Wednesday.

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