Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Expelling Syrian Diplomats over Houla Massacre, Baird Says: Canada Expelling Syrian Diplomats: Baird

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Expelling Syrian Diplomats over Houla Massacre, Baird Says: Canada Expelling Syrian Diplomats: Baird

Article excerpt

OTTAWA - Canada joined allies across the world Tuesday in expelling Syrian diplomats, as the slaughter of the innocent in Houla provoked a broad severing of global ties with the pariah Assad regime in Damascus.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada was expelling Syrian diplomats in the wake of the weekend massacre in Houla. The United Nations said 108 people died in the massacre, including 49 children and 34 women -- one of the deadliest events in the 15-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

Canada took part in a co-ordinated diplomatic offensive along with the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and the Netherlands as the UN revealed more gruesome details of the events in Houla: the massacre included the close-range shootings of scores of children and parents in their homes.

The report did not specify who carried out most of the killings.

In Ottawa, a small but noisy crowd began to gather outside the Syrian embassy as several RCMP officers stood guard on the sidewalk.

Halah al-Horani, a high school English teacher in Damascus until she emigrated to Canada four years ago, was initially numbed by the violence in Houla before she came out to add her voice to Tuesday's dissent.

"I spent two days not speaking," said al-Horani, 53. "All the time, I was imagining how those children were feeling when they were watching their friends, other families, getting slaughtered by those monstrous people."

Raed Arab, 46, said the diplomatic expulsion was long overdue.

"We asked for this a long time ago. But it took more lives for the Canadian government to take action. We thank the government for taking this action," said Arab, a Palestinian-Canadian, whose mother is Syrian.

"This regime is a Mafia," he added. "The latest killing just shows just how murderous this regime is. And how brutal they are."

Baird said all remaining diplomats in Ottawa and their families have five days to leave Canada. …

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