AMMAN (Reuters) – Two hundred members of Syria’s ruling Baath Party from the province of Deraa and surrounding regions resigned on Wednesday in protest against an attack by security forces on the southern city.

Resigning from the Baath Party, which has ruled Syria since taking power in a 1963 coup, was unthinkable before pro-democracy protests erupted in Deraa on March 18.

“In view of the negative stance taken by the leadership of the Arab Socialist Baath Party toward 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,” said a declaration signed by the Deraa officials.

A separate declaration sent to Reuters said a further 28 Baathists in the restive coastal city of Banias also resigned on Wednesday to protest the “practices of the security forces against honorable citizens… and torture and murder they committed.”

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Editing by Maria Golovnina)