At least 233 members of President Bashar al-Assad's ruling Ba'ath party have resigned en masse, according to Insan blogger Wissam Tarif. They defected in protest of Assad's deadly crackdown against pro-democracy protesters that has killed 500 people. Tarif tweeted that the army even opened live bullets on members of the Syrian parliament that tried to access the city of Dar'aa, currently under siege. Tarif's sources on the ground say the checkpoints are attempting to isolate the city as homes are being raided, shooting is reported in suburbs, and 87 young men were just arbitrarily detained.
Security Council's Appetite for Intervention Wanes
The resignations came just as the U.N.'s fifteen-country Security Council opted not to impose sanctions or even issue a statement against the crisis in Syria. While the U.S., Britain, France, and others circulated a draft of a statement condemning Assad, Russia insisted it was actually outside interference that posed a threat to peace. A U.N. official told Reuters that Russia's and China's "tolerance of U.S. and European attempts to protect civilians in the Middle East appears to have dissipated."
Protesters Dispute Assad's Claim That They Are Salafi Jihadists
Bashar Ja'afari, Syria's U.N. ambassador, welcomed the U.N.'s decision, blaming the violence on "extremist groups." Assad, whose ambassador to London recently got his invite revoked to the royal wedding, has been trying to paint the protesters as Salafi extremists and foreigners from neighboring countries entering Syria to incite violence. (In Libya, Qaddafi also initially tried to paint rebels as motivated by foreign influence.) But on BBC Arabic, Tarif tweeted that the son of a Parliament member begged Assad to let women and children out of Dar'aa, crying that "children can't be Salafis." In the middle of a peaceful protest in Banyas, an unnamed demonstrator also vehemently objected to the regime's characterization.
Syria crackdown: hundreds resign from Ba'ath party [Guardian UK]
European push for U.N. condemnation of Syria fails [Reuters]
[Al Jazeera English/YouTube]