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More Troops Deployed in Syrian Military Crackdown

Syrian families carry their belongings as they arrive by foot in Wadi Khaled area, northern Lebanon, near the Lebanese-Syrian border, April 28, 2011

Additional Syrian troops have reportedly been sent to the troubled Syrian town of Daraa and other areas on Thursday. The deployment comes after several hundred members of the ruling Baath Party resigned in protest of the crackdown on anti-government demonstrations.

The resignation of 200 Baath Party members late Wednesday happened days after three members of parliament and the state-appointed Mufti of Daraa quit too in protest.

But Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, says the resignations are largely symbolic and will not have much effect because Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remains in charge:

He says that the resignations, while numerically significant, are unlikely to have an impact, because the Baath Party does not control the upper echelons of Syria’s political hierarchy.

The military remained firmly in control in Daraa on Thursday. Neighborhoods are cut off from each other and food and water are in short supply. Witnesses say that sporadic gunfire crackled through the day.

Organizers of a Facebook support group are calling for a "day of rage" across Syria in support of Daraa after Friday prayers.

Syrian government television warned citizens against demonstrating, saying that there is a "difference between peaceful protests," which are permitted, and what it called "rioting"

The government also warned people against carrying firearms and urged citizens not to stock up on bread.

For the third day in a row, state television showed confessions of alleged Islamic militants it says were captured in Daraa and elsewhere.

Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al Jaafari defended the government crackdown at a U.N. Security Council session Wednesday, repeating official claims that outside forces were plotting to destabilize the country:

He says that the Syrian government is exercising its right to defend its citizens and to save them from sectarian strife. He says the opponents' goal is to destroy Syria’s political independence and stability.

The U.N. Security Council discussed Syria’s military crackdown but was unable to agree on a draft statement condemning the violence. Russia and several other council members opposed the statement.

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