Conflict & Justice

Australia expels Syrian diplomats; says other nations will follow


A child flashes a victory sign as he takes part in a European demonstration against the Syrian regime, calling for democracy and an end to bloodshed in Syria, on May 19, 2012, in Geneva.


Fabrice Coffrini

Australia expelled two Syrian diplomats on Tuesday in protest of last week's massacre in Houla that left at least 108 people dead, including dozens of children.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr told reporters said he expected other countries to do the same later Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

"In doing this we are more or less moving with our friends around the world. I expect other countries will be doing this overnight Australian time," Carr told reporters, according to Reuters.

"This is the most effective way we've got of sending a message of revulsion of what has happened in Syria," Carr reportedly said.

The UN Security Council has condemned the killings in Houla, a collection of farming villages in Homs Province, on Friday, while the international community has sought to increase pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to do more to end the violence.

More from GlobalPost: Syria: Houla massacre condemned by international community

Assad's regime has denied responsibility for the Houla artillery attack, which prompted thousands of Syrians to flood into the streets in protest, the Australian Associated Press reported.

The UN has said 49 children and 34 women were among the 108 people killed.

Meanwhile, Canberra ordered Syrian Charge d'Affaires Jawdat Ali, the most senior Syrian diplomat in Australia, and another diplomat from the Syrian Embassy to leave the country within 72 hours. 

"The Syrian charge has again been advised to convey a clear message to Damascus that Australians are appalled by this massacre and we will pursue a unified international response to hold those responsible to account," Carr said, calling the killings a "hideous and brutal crime."

Further, Carr said Australia would not engage with the Syrian government unless it abided by a UN cease-fire plan, brokered by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Annan arrived in Damascus on Tuesday for talks with Assad aimed at salvaging the cease-fire plan.

More from GlobalPost: Syria: Dozens of children among dead in Homs 'massacre' (VIDEO)