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Ear to the Ground

Updates on the Syrian Conflict

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Posted on May 30, 2012
FreedomHouse2 (CC BY 2.0)

Protesters fly the Syrian independence flag, which bears three stars instead of the country’s official two, at a demonstration in an undisclosed location.

Among the latest developments in the Syrian humanitarian crisis, China and Russia have reaffirmed their opposition to a forced regime change; Turkey and Japan joined 11 other countries in expelling Syrian diplomats, and the U.N.’s Human Rights Council is due to meet to discuss the massacre in the city of Houla.

Turkey warned that it and the international community would take “further measures” if the Assad regime’s slaughter of Syrians continued.

Russia’s foreign ministry complained via Twitter that the coordinated expulsion of Syrian diplomats was “counterproductive” and would hinder the United Nations’ attempts to resolve the Syrian conflict through diplomacy, led by U.N.-Arab League envoy and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that U.N. observers had found the bodies of 13 men with their hands tied behind their backs in eastern Syria. Many had been shot in the head. The killings may be related to the execution of “terrorists” that Syrian state media reported had taken place in the same region around the same time.

In California, Hazem Chehabi, Syria’s honorary consul general in the region, resigned after Friday’s “barbaric massacre” in Houla. In an interview with NPR, Chehabi said: “You get to a point where your silence, or inaction, becomes ethically or morally unacceptable. The recent barbaric massacre that took place in Houla, for me was a tipping point.”

Also, the U.S. on Wednesday tightened economic pressure on Damascus by imposing sanctions on the Syrian International Islamic Bank, freezing its assets in the U.S. and barring American firms from doing business with it.

For more developments, see The Guardian’s Middle East Live blog. —ARK

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