Turkey expels Syrian diplomats in Ankara

May 31, 2012 9:32 am 

ANKARA, May 30 — Turkish Foreign Ministry decided on Wednesday to expel all Syrian diplomats in the Turkish capital of Ankara, urging the Syrian charge d'affaires and all other diplomatic personnel to leave the country within 72 hours.

The move gave a fresh blow to the already strained Turkish- Syrian ties over the latter's alleged crackdown on opponents, local newspaper Today's Zaman said in a website report.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement that the move was a response to Syria's killing of more than 100 civilians in Syrian town of Houla last week, adding that the Syrian charge d'affaires in Ankara was informed about the expelling in a note sent on Wednesday.

"It is impossible for us to remain silent and unresponsive in the face of this act which can be regarded as a crime against humanity," said the statement, while calling for international community to punish the "nefarious massacre."

Turkey's move also follows similar action of major western powers. The United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands expelled Syrian ambassadors and diplomats on Tuesday.

Further, the Turkish Foreign Ministry vowed to take further steps against the Syrian administration unless it ends its alleged acts of violence against civilians and paves the way for a democratic transition process.

Turkey has reduced the number of Turkish officials in its consulate in northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo and would continue to decrease, a Turkish diplomat told Xinhua.

Turkey's order to expel Syrian diplomats did not cover Syrian consulate in Istanbul, the diplomat added.

Turkey could impose more sanction measures on Syria in different ways, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Wednesday without giving any details. However, he added that they would declare when Turkish government decides next round of sanctions.

International measures against Syria since the alleged killings in Houla were "display of sensitivity" concerning the issue, Erdogan said.

"We cannot remain silent. Staying quiet is being a part of cruelty," he noted.

Asked if Turkey considers "buffer zone" on Turkish-Syrian border, the prime minister said Turkish government had no such a decision at the moment.

In March, Turkey has temporarily recalled its ambassador in Syrian capital Damascus. Turkey, once a close ally of Syria, has imposed on Syria a series of sanctions, including an arms embargo, due to its alleged crackdown on anti-government protesters. (PNA/Xinhua) RSV/mmg

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