The Syrian ruling Ba'ath party saw one of its rare signs of dissidence with more than 200 members quitting ranks over the firing on people in which 35 people were killed, taking the toll to nearly 500 so far.

The party which came to power in a 1963 coup remained strong throughout controlling any dissidence within its ranks until the latest flare in protests which saw hundreds of people on the streets against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

In view of the negative stance taken by the leadership of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath party towards the events in Syria and in Deraa, and after the death of hundreds and the wounding of thousands at the hands of the various security forces, we submit our collective resignation, the members said in a declaration.

Earlier, about 28 members in the city of Banias resigned on Wednesday over the government's repressive policies against the pro-democracy protests. Last Friday saw more than 100 people killed in a firing unleashed by security forces in Deraa city.