(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- A week after the U.S. and its allies expelled Syrian envoys due to the ongoing conflict in their country, Damascus announced on Tuesday that it was booting out 17 diplomats from the U.S. and other Western countries.
The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said members of the following countries were "personae non gratae": Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.
For good measure, al-Assad also ordered the entire Turkish mission in Damascus to get out of the capital. As it happened, most of those told to leave were already long gone for safety reasons.
Washington and several Western states had decided to expel Syrian envoys following the massacre in Houla in late May that left more than 100 civilians dead.
Tuesday's decision by Syria was a further sign that al-Assad will depend more heavily on Moscow and Beijing to repel punitive action by the United Nations as the government crackdown on dissidents enters its 16th month with little chance of the violence responsible for 13,000 deaths ending anytime soon.
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