Western states to expel Syrian diplomats

Major Western powers say they are expelling senior Syrian diplomats following the killing of 108 people in the Houla region of Syria on Friday, BBC reports.France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada and Australia have all announced expulsions.Most victims of Friday’s massacre – including women and children – were summarily executed, the UN says. Residents said pro-government shabiha militia had entered homes and opened fire indiscriminately. The developments came as UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan met President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said initial investigations suggested that most of those killed in the village of Taldou, near Houla, had been summarily executed. He said 49 children and 34 women were among the victims.Eyewitnesses told the BBC that pro-government shabiha militiamen had carried out the killings. Survivors said they had hidden or played dead. UN observers who visited Taldou said many of the victims had been killed by close-range gunfire or knife attacks. Syrian leaders insist that the massacre was the work of “terrorists”, aiming to derail the peace process and provoke intervention by Western powers.

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