Syria's Assad facing dissent over Deraa crackdown

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  • Muslim Brotherhood calls for demonstrations for first time

  • Signs of discontent within army, Baath Party - diplomats

  • Gunfire heard near Lebanon border

(Adds Muslim Brotherhood declaration, interior ministry)

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

AMMAN, April 28 (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad faced rare dissent within his Baath Party and signs of discontent in the army over violent repression of protesters that a rights group said on Thursday had killed 500 people.

Two hundred members of the ruling party from southern Syria resigned on Wednesday after the government sent in tanks to crush resistance in the city of Deraa, where a six-week-old uprising against Assad's authoritarian rule erupted.

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.

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Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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