Today, the United States joined over a dozen other nations in expelling Syrian diplomats following news of a massacre last week in which Syrian forces killed over 100 including at least 32 children in the city of Houla.
Washington expelled Zuheir Jabbour, the chargé d’affaires at the Syrian embassy and gave him a 72 hour ultimatum to leave the country. The move follows a U.N. Security Council denunciation of the atrocity this weekend.
International pressure is mounting against the Syrian regime for continued violence in the country following months of protests against the government. The Security Council statement was backed by traditional Syrian ally, Russia.
The regime of Bashar al-Assad has been under pressure to end violence against civilians for months. Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan arrived in the country in April to negotiate a cease fire between rebels and government forces but this effort failed as violence continues to flare.
On May 10, twin suicide bombs exploded in the capital killing 59 people, injuring over 370. The al-Qaeda-linked group al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility. Since the uprising began last year, over 13,000 have died of which, 9,183 were civilians.
As the violence accelerated in Syria, it began to spread to neighboring Lebanon which Syria often views as a puppet. Many in Lebanon’s government, including Hezbollah, are allies of the Syrian regime which has led to many troubles within the country.
Recently, violence flared near the northern port city of Tripoli where 10 were killed in fighting between Sunnis and Alawites, an offshoot of Shi’a Islam and the religious sect of the Syrian regime.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman called this weekend for a national unity dialogue to prevent Syria’s violence from further spreading in its smaller neighbor.
Lebanon suffered terribly during a 15-year civil war from 1978-1990. Many of those scars are still visible today. In 2005, former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri was killed in a massive bombing in Beirut along with 20 others. Many blame Syria for the assassination.
Observers view the situation in Syria differently than the uprising in Libya.
The U.S. says it will not arm the rebels in this conflict or intervene as they did during the revolution in Libya. “We do not believe that militarization, further militarization of the situation in Syria at this point is the right course of action,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney.