U.S. Expels Syrian Envoy in Wake of Massacre
The State Department has expelled Syria's envoy from the U.S. in response to the Friday massacre by Bashar Assad's regime in Houla.
The attacks on the small farming village in Homs province killed 108, mostly children and women, shot execution-style. Under 20 of the deaths were attributed to artillery and tank fires. Entire families were slain.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that Syrian Charge d’Affaires Zuheir Jabbour was notified today of his explusion and has 72 hours to leave the country.
"We hold the Syrian government responsible for this slaughter of innocent lives," Nuland said. "This massacre is the most unambiguous indictment to date of the Syrian government’s flagrant violations of its UN Security Council obligations under Resolutions 2042 and 2043 along with the regime’s ongoing threat to peace and security."
The regime blamed Islamist militants for the attack, but only the regime possesses the tanks and artillery used in the attack. Witnesses indicated the involvement of the Shabbiha, Assad's civilian militia dirty-work squad.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), holding an event with members of the Syrian-American community in Houston today, called for safe harbor for women and children in Syria.
"Families are being targeted and should be protected," she said. "Victims and officials from human rights groups claim that security forces in Syria are using rape against both men and women as a humiliation tool in order to spread fear among the opposition. Women and children should not live in fear of being attacked by means of war strategy."
France, Britain, Australia and Canada also expelled senior Syrian diplomats today.
"The Assad government has now been condemned by countries in all parts of the globe, and can look only to Iran for support for its brutal and unjust crackdown," Jackson Lee said.