BERLIN (AP) — Germany has expelled four employees of the Syrian embassy in Berlin in a diplomatic move to put pressure on the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Monday the expulsion of the four, whose identities weren't released, sends a "clear sign that we are reducing relations with the Assad government to an absolute minimum."

Westerwelle says Germany hopes the newly formed opposition National Coalition will be able to form an effective transitional body as soon as possible.