Hague faces calls to expel Syrian ambassador after Homs massacre

Feb 5, 2012

London embassy was defended by riot police after attack by 150 protesters

THE FOREIGN Secretary is facing calls to expel the Syrian ambassador after the Arab Spring came to wintry London yesterday when around 150 opponents of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad mounted a violent protest against their country's embassy. 

Twenty-two protesters were arrested and two policemen were injured during the demonstration (above). After some protesters managed to break through into the embassy, riot police had to be drafted in to protect it.

Now William Hague is under mounting pressure to expel Syrian ambassador Sami Khiyami. Tory MP Andrew Rosindell, a member of the Foreign Affairs committee, said today that Hague should consider taking the rare diplomatic step, saying it is time for Britain "to act".

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell joined in, telling the Sun: "The UK should expel the Syrian ambassador. It is intolerable that we allow the Syrian ambassador to remain in London after this latest massacre of civilians by his government."

Yesterday, The Sunday Telegraph reports, Hague said Russia and China had "shamed" the UN when they exercised their veto to block an Arab League-backed plan for al-Assad to relinquish power and for Syria to hold democratic elections.

The veto derailed the culmination of months of intense diplomatic wrangling to produce a solution to the crisis acceptable to all. Opposition group the Syrian National Council said the veto had handed al-Assad's government a "licence to kill".

Hague said: "Russia and China have today taken a choice: to turn their backs on the Arab world and to support tyranny rather than the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people … and they have done so on the most shameful day of the Syrian killing machine's 300 days of repression."

Hours earlier, Syrian troops mounted an assault on the city of Homs using mortar and tanks to bombard civilians. One opposition group said 62 people had died while another put the death toll at more than 200.

Last year, Britain showed its displeasure with the regime by un-inviting Khiyami to the royal wedding.

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