WASHINGTON, May 29 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that it is expelling Syria's charge d'affaires in Washington, in a protest to the recent massacre in Syria's central village of Houla, which left more than 100 people killed.
"We hold the Syrian government responsible for this slaughter of innocent lives," State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
The State Department said that Syria's charge d'affaires Zuheir Jabbour, the country's top diplomat in Washington, has 72 hours to leave the United States.
The UN Security Council on Sunday condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the massacre.
However, the Syrian government denied that its troops have anyting to do with the horrifying carnage in Houla, and blamed "hundreds of heavily armed gunmen" for the mass killings.
"We condemn with the strongest term this terrorist massacre," said Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdessi at a press conference Sunday, adding the government has formed a military judicial committee to conduct investigations and the results would appear within three days.
Also on Sunday, Bashar Ja'afari, the Syrian permanent representative to the UN, said the massacre was "appalling and unjustifiable," and was "condemned by my government in the strongest terms possible."
He said those responsible for the crime would be brought to justice by the Syrian government according to the Syrian law.