UK, Canada, France Expel Syrian Diplomats
The UK and several other countries including France and Canada have expelled Syrian diplomats following a massacre in El Houleh in which 30 children and 78 adults were executed by Syrian government forces on May 25th.
"This is a direct response to horrific killings in el-Houleh and an expression of international outrage at Syrian regime's inhumane repression," said a statement from the Foreign Office.
Foreign Secretary William Hague expelled Syria's most senior diplomat in the UK in the latest reaction against President Bashar al Assad's crackdown on anti-government protestors. The UN Security Council has also condemned the killings with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saying that there were shootings at close range and severe physical abuse. The UN has called for the Syrian government to withdraw its troops and cease the use of heavy weapons in population centres.
The UN estimates that more than 9000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands have been displaced since the uprising against Assad began 14 months ago.
There has been no reaction from the Cyprus government which is keeping a low profile considering its close alliance with Russia which has blocked several votes from the UN Security Council to oust Assad.
But even Russia is sending signals that it is unhappy with Assad. According to Hague, he had a conversation with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who said that pressure should be increased on Assad to implement the six-point Annan peace plan.
“Of course we will seek other ways to increase the pressure as well. We are discussing in the European Union a further tightening of sanctions on Syria. I have had the discussions with Russia yesterday... and the Russian Foreign Minister did agree with me yesterday that it is necessary to increase the pressure on all concerned, including the Assad regime, to implement the Annan plan – something that the regime has so far failed to do. We will continue to discuss this with Russia, since Russia has particular leverage over the regime and therefore a particular role in this crisis," said Hague.
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