Last updated: 30 May, 2012

Turkey orders Syrian diplomats out within 72 hours

Turkey said Wednesday it had ordered Syrian diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours following the massacre of more than 100 civilians in Houla which has triggered global outrage.

“As the host country, it has been demanded… that Syria’s charge d’affaires in Ankara and all other diplomatic personnel leave our country within 72 hours as of May 30, 2012,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The measure does not include Syria’s consular corps in Istanbul.

“It is out of the question for us to remain silent and not respond to this action which constitutes a crime against humanity,” it added.

The ministry also warned it would take additional measures if the Damascus regime continued to commit such crimes, without elaborating on its possible action.

Syria’s charge d’affaires was summoned to the foreign ministry and notified of the government decision, the statement added.

On Tuesday, Western powers including the United States, Britain, France and Australia all kicked out the highest ranking Syrian diplomats in their countries in a bid to increase pressure on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The coordinated expulsions followed mounting international outrage over the massacre in the central town of Houla, in which at least 108 people, including 49 children, were killed, according to UN figures.

Turkey, once a strong ally of Syria, broke with Damascus after Assad’s regime began cracking down on dissent in March last year.