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Syrian diplomats expelled around the world

world Updated: May 30, 2012 01:39 IST
Yashwant Raj

Governments around the world expelled ambassadors and top Syrian diplomats Tuesday in an unusually coordinated blow to Syria’s leaders, after a particularly gruesome massacre in which the UN says families, including children, were shot at close range in their homes.

The US on Tuesday expelled Syrian charge d’affaires holding the Assad regime responsible for the killing of at least 90 persons, including 30 children over the weekend.

“He (Charge d’Affaires Zubeir Jabbour) has 72 hours to leave the country,” US state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in a statement. “We hold the Syrian government responsible for this slaughter of innocent lives.”

Australia, Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Germany have also expelled Syrian diplomats to mount pressure on Bashar al-Assad to quit.

Syria won’t be able to retaliate, not against the US at least as Washington withdrew ambassador Robert Ford in October 2011 citing threats to is safety.

Syria has denied the attack was carried by state forces, and has sought to shift the blame on gunmen funded by foreign powers, without specifying who.

While the US is letting the UN Security Council take the lead on Syria it is is working with other western powers on finding ways to force Assad to quit.

But pressure is mounting domestically on President Obama to do more. Republican presumptive presidential candidate Mitt Romney has asked Obama to take more “assertive steps”. The Annan initiative is not helping, Romney added.

Republican Senator John McCain has called for the US to “get serious about helping the Syrian people defend themselves, find safe haven, and fight back against Assad”.

In France, Syria’s former colonial ruler, President Francois Hollande said ambassador Lamia Shakkour will be notified that she must leave.

Hollande said Tuesday that Paris will host a meeting in early July of the so-called Friends of Syria seeking a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The ambassador’s expulsion came amid increasing diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed in Syria and put pressure on Assad.

The US, Britain and France have closed their embassies in Syria since the crackdown on protesters began last year.

(With agency inputs)