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After Houla massacre, Syrian diplomats expelled around the world

France, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Australia are expelling Syrian diplomatic envoys. The response to the Houla civilian massacre is increasing Syria's isolation.

By Joseph LoganReuters / May 29, 2012

A German police car patrols in front of the Syrian embassy to Germany in Berlin, May 29, 2012. Western nations threw out its diplmat envoys to protest against a massacre of 108 civilians, many of them children, in the town of Houla.

REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

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Beirut

Peace envoy Kofi Annan expressed "grave concern" to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday while Western nations threw out Syria's diplomatic envoys to protest against a massacre of 108 civilians, many of them children, in the town of Houla.

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France, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Australia said they were expelling the Syrian envoys from their capitals in a move that was coordinated with the United States and underlined Assad's diplomatic isolation.

The killings in Houla drew a chorus of powerful condemnation from around the world, with the United Nations saying entire families had been shot dead in their homes.

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"Bashar al-Assad is the murderer of his people," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Le Monde. "He must relinquish power. The sooner the better." His Australian counterpart Bob Carr said: "This massacre of more than 100 men, women and children in Houla was a hideous and brutal crime."

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle expelled the Syrian ambassador on Tuesday and urged the U.N. Security Council to consider again its stance on Syria. "The Syrian regime is responsible for the terrible actions in Houla. Whoever there or elsewhere, violates the U.N. security council resolution by using heavy weapons against their own people must bear serious diplomatic and political consequences," Westerwelle said in a statement.

Canada said that the three remaining Syrian diplomats in Ottawa would be expelled.  "Canada and our partners are speaking loudly, with one voice, in saying these Syrian representatives are not welcome in our countries while their masters in Damascus continue to perpetrate their heinous and murderous acts," oreign Minister John Baird said said in a separate news release.

Assad's government late on Monday denied having anything to do with the deaths, or even having heavy weapons in the area.

Western countries that have called for Assad to step down were hoping that the Houla killings would tip global opinion, notably that of Syria's main protector Russia, towards more effective action against Damascus.

Annan drew up a peace plan backed by the United Nations and the Arab League to steer a way out of the 14-month-old uprising against Assad. But six weeks after it was agreed by Damascus and the rebels, the bloodshed has barely slowed.

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