Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Syrians applaud expulsion of diplomats from Ottawa

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SYRIANS in Manitoba say they're glad Canada has expelled Syrian diplomats from Ottawa and urged the federal government to take a "leading role" in mobilizing a United Nations intervention in Syria.

"The so-called diplomats are no more than a mouthpiece for the criminal regime in Damascus," Syrian Assembly of Manitoba spokesman Jude Kasas said in a prepared statement. "They do not represent the Syrian people who, for over one year, expected them to defect and join the Dignity and Freedom Revolution, but they chose to side with the children-killer."

On Tuesday, Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands took action against Syrian diplomats. Canada expelled three diplomats.

In Winnipeg, Kasas said the 50-member Manitoba assembly has been watching the Syrian regime commit atrocities against its own people and waiting for the world to intervene on behalf of defenseless civilians.

The UN's human rights office said Tuesday most of the 108 victims of a massacre in Syria last week were shot at close range, some of them women, children and entire families gunned down in their own homes.

Seeing UN envoy Kofi Annan meeting once again with the regime "is a slap in the face of every free Syrian," said Kasas.

The death toll has reached more than 15,000 with more than 1,000 children and 600 who were tortured to death, the assembly said. "All this has been taking place while the world is giving one chance after another to Bashar Assad to finish the job," said Kasas.

The Syrian Assembly of Manitoba commends Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird for kicking out the Syrian diplomats and urges Canada to take a leading role in mobilizing a UN intervention to establish a no-fly zone over Syria and hold back Assad's army by force, he said. Syrians are fighting for what many in Canada take for granted: basic human rights, dignity and freedom, Kasas said.

-- with files from The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 31, 2012 B2

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