President says France to expel Syrian ambassador

AP News
Posted: May 29, 2012 7:18 AM

France says it is expelling the Syrian ambassador to increase pressure on Damascus amid mounting violence by government forces against civilians and opposition members.

President Francois Hollande told reporters Tuesday that Ambassador Lamia Shakkour will be notified "today or tomorrow" that she must leave.

Hollande said that in high-level discussions with British Prime Minister David Cameron and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon "we decided on a certain number of ... pressure tactics to apply to Syria," including the expulsion.

Syria's Embassy in Paris could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hollande also said that Paris will host a meeting in early July of the so-called Friends of Syria seeking a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

The announcement came amid increasing diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed and put pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad. The U.N. said Tuesday that entire families were shot in their homes during a massacre in Syria last week that killed more than 100 people, including children.

Many Syrian opposition figures are based in France, Syria's onetime colonial ruler.