Tunisia Expels Syrian Ambassador Over 'Bloody Massacre'

At least 260 killed in Homs according to opposition activists; Head of Arab League parliament committee calls on Arab countries to sever diplomatic ties with Syria.

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Tunisia said it no longer recognized the regime of President Bashar Assad and had decided to expel the Syrian ambassador from Tunis, a presidential spokesman said Saturday.

The spokesman said the decision came after a "bloody massacre" that began Friday in the central Syrian province of Homs, which killed 260 according to opposition activists.

Syrian anti-regime protesters in Al-Qsair, Feb. 3. 2012.Credit: AFP

"Tunisia believes that this tragedy will not end, except if Bashar Assad's regime gives up power to pave the way for a democratic transition that ensures security for the brotherly Syrian people," the spokesman said in a statement.

Kuwait and Algeria also announced Saturday that they would be expelling their Syrian ambassadors.

Meanwhile, the head of the Arab Parliament, a committee of parliamentarians from Arab League states, called on Saturday for Arab countries to expel Syria's ambassadors and sever diplomatic relations over President Bashar Assad's crackdown on protests.

"(Arab states) should expel Syrian ambassadors and sever diplomatic relations and economic dealings (with Syria) until the regime complies with the demands of the Syrian people," Ali al-Salem al-Dekbas, head of the 88-member committee, said in a statement.

Arab states have turned decisively against Assad in recent months over a crackdown on opponents of Assad that the United Nations says has killed at least 5,000 people in 11 months. Assad's government says it is fighting foreign-backed insurgents, and most deaths have been among its troops.

Western and Arab nations are trying to overcome Russian resistance to a UN Security Council resolution backing an Arab League call for Assad to give up power. The diplomacy has taken on new urgency since activists said overnight that Assad's forces had killed more than 200 people in the city of Homs.

Tunisia started the procedure on Saturday for withdrawing its recognition of Assad's government.

Dekbas said Arab states should confront the Russian delegate to the United Nations, whose delay in taking action "allows for a continuation of....killing of the Syrian people."

He condemned what he said was "the international community standing and watching" violence in Syria, which he described as "crimes against humanity."



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