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Britain expels Syrian diplomats, US to follow

Syria had already withdrawn its ambassador from London. -AFP

Tue, May 29, 2012

LONDON - Britain expelled the top Syrian diplomat in London and two other envoys Tuesday, saying it was part of a coordinated move by countries including the United States in protest at the Houla massacre.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said the expulsions would send a "stark message" that time was running out for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after the killings of 108 people in the central Syrian town last week.

The move was part of the increased pressure by the international community on senior figures in the regime, to "get the message across to them that they have to choose, that time will run out for Assad," Hague said.

"As part of that pressure today we have again called the Syrian charge d'affaires in London here to the Foreign Office. He has been given seven days to leave the country," Hague said.

"Other Syrian diplomats will be expelled, two other diplomats will be expelled at the same time.

"Our allies and partners around the world will be taking similar action and announcing it today - including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United States, Canada and Australia."

Syria had already withdrawn its ambassador from London and charge d'affaires Ghassan Dalla was the acting head of the embassy.

The Foreign Office said Britain was "taking action in concert with partners across the world to send a stark message to president Assad: actions have consequences."

A staff member at the Syrian embassy in London declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

The move comes a day after Britain summoned Dalla to the Foreign Office to receive an official protest against the "sickening and evil" massacre.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also on Monday urged UN chief Ban Ki-moon to step up the pressure on Assad and help end the "despicable suppression" of the Syrian people.

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