By Li Hongmei, Sina English
Prompted by Houla massacre , the US, the Netherlands, France, Britain, Canada, Spain, Germany, and Italy joined Australia in expelling some or all of Syria's diplomatic staff, making the “concerted protest” to be a Nine-country bloc.
Nine Western nations, including the US, expelled some or all of Syria's diplomatic missions to their countries in a coordinated action against the massacre in a Syrian town of Houla that killed more than 100 civilians.
The United States announced the expulsion of Syrian charge d'affairs Zuhair Jabbour, joining other countries in a crackdown on Syria's overseas diplomatic corps. Syria's ambassador to the US left after Washington closed its Damascus embassy in February.
Francois Hollande, France's president, told reporters the decision was "taken in consultation with France's partners," suggesting a coordinated diplomatic effort. The French foreign minister called Syrian president Bashar al-Assad a "murderer." And Australia's Bob Carr said those responsible for the massacre at Houla would be held to account.
The Associated Press wrote that State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland blamed the Syrian government for the Houla killings and said Jabbour had 72 hours to leave the country.
All the countries in question announced the expulsions after consultations with each other on what they called unacceptable levels of violence. Some governments told Syrian diplomats to leave immediately, others gave them up to seven days to pack their bags.
The Netherlands declared Syria's ambassador - who lives in Brussels and also represents Damascus in Belgium - to be persona non grata.
Some Arab nations have already taken similar diplomatic action against the Syrian government.
Gulf Cooperation Council countries - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait - expelled Syrian envoys in February then the following month closed their embassies in Damascus.
The new coordinated action from the Western countries took place as international mediator Kofi Annan met Assad in Damascus and told him that "bold steps" were required for his peace plan to succeed.
British Foreign Minister William Hague, however, said the expulsions aimed to tell Assad and his ruling elite that time was running out for them to comply with the peace plan.
Syrian officials denied any army role in the massacre, one of the worst single incidents in the conflict.
More than 10,000 people have been killed since the unrest against Assad's 11-year-rule broke out in March 2011.