Canada closes embassy in Syria

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, March 6, 2012
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Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said on Monday that Canada has closed its embassy and consulate in Syria and put further sanctions on Damascus.

"The deteriorating security situation in Syria has led us to suspend our services at both our embassy and consulate in Syria, effective immediately," he said in a statement. "Canadian diplomats have now safely left the country."

Canada had already cut down its embassy staff in late January, leaving only core personnel to help a voluntary evacuation of its citizens in Syria.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has issued almost monthly warnings asking Canadians to leave Syria since protests began in the Middle East and North Africa in January 2011. The notices urged people to leave while commercial flights existed.

The closure of the embassy follows similar moves by other countries, including the United States, Britain and, most recently, France.

Meanwhile, Baird announced that Canada has taken new sanctions to include a complete ban on the provision or acquisition of financial or other related services, as well as sanctions on the Syrian central bank and seven high-ranking Syrian officials implicated in the violence.

"This is the sixth round of sanctions imposed upon the Assad regime. Our message remains clear: (Bashar al-) Assad must go," he said. "We must put concerted and intense international pressure on the regime to stop the violence and to allow a peaceful, Syrian-led transition."

Earlier this year, Canada also dispatched a frigate to join NATO forces off the Syrian coast.

Baird announced on Feb. 24 at the Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis that Canada would provide a further 1.5 million dollars to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.

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