OTTAWA - Canada joined allies across the world Tuesday in expelling Syrian diplomats, as the slaughter of the innocent in Houla provoked a broad severing of global ties with the pariah Assad regime in Damascus.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada was expelling Syrian diplomats in the wake of the weekend massacre in Houla. The United Nations said 108 people died in the massacre, including 49 children and 34 women — one of the deadliest events in the 15-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

Canada took part in a co-ordinated diplomatic offensive along with the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and the Netherlands as the UN revealed more gruesome details of the events in Houla: the massacre included the close-range shootings of scores of children and parents in their homes.

The report did not specify who carried out most of the killings.

In Ottawa, a small but noisy crowd began to gather outside the Syrian embassy as several RCMP officers stood guard on the sidewalk.

Halah al-Horani, a high school English teacher in Damascus until she emigrated to Canada four years ago, was initially numbed by the violence in Houla before she came out to add her voice to Tuesday's dissent.

"I spent two days not speaking," said al-Horani, 53. "All the time, I was imagining how those children were feeling when they were watching their friends, other families, getting slaughtered by those monstrous people."

Raed Arab, 46, said the diplomatic expulsion was long overdue.

"We asked for this a long time ago. But it took more lives for the Canadian government to take action. We thank the government for taking this action," said Arab, a Palestinian-Canadian, whose mother is Syrian.

"This regime is a Mafia," he added. "The latest killing just shows just how murderous this regime is. And how brutal they are."

Baird said all remaining diplomats in Ottawa and their families have five days to leave Canada. As is the case in several other countries, Syria's ranking diplomat is a charge d'affairs, not an ambassador.

As well, another Syrian diplomat waiting to come to Canada will be refused entry.

Baird said Canadians, like other people around the world, were horrified to learn on the weekend about the massacre, including nearly three dozen children under the age of 10.

"Canada and our partners are speaking loudly, with one voice, in saying these Syrian representatives are not welcome in our countries while their masters in Damascus continue to perpetrate their heinous and murderous acts," Baird said.

"The ongoing violence must stop immediately, and the Syrian people must be free to realize for themselves a better, brighter future. Canada remains committed to working with the international community to find solutions to this crisis."

Britain said further sanctions would be considered against Syria, but there was no prospect of any more intervention.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague signalled that Russia — a supporter of Syria — would face more pressure following Tuesday's action.

"We will continue to discuss this with Russia. Russia has particular leverage on the regime and therefore has a particular role in this crisis."

Hague said the situation in Syria is more complicated than the events in Libya last year, when the UN Security Council approved air strikes that ultimately contributed to the ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi's regime.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay wouldn't speculate on whether the Security Council would ever be able to act in unanimity, in the face of veto-wielding members China and Russia.

"China and Russia in particular have been very reticent to agree to a Security Council resolution, at least one that would mirror similar efforts to try to bring to an end the violence. But we continue to push along with our partners," MacKay said Tuesday.

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syria car bomb Syrian policemen inspect the site of a car bomb explosion on Mazzeh highway in the capital Damascus on July 13, 2012. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/GettyImages)


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U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice tweets:

@ AmbassadorRice : #Syria regime turned artillery, tanks and helicopters on its own men & women. It unleashed knife-wielding shabiha gangs on its own children.

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Russia says international envoy Kofi Annan will visit Moscow on Monday to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria. Russia also called for an inquiry into an alleged massacre that took place in the village of Tramseh on Thursday. "We have no doubt that this wrongdoing serves the interests of those powers that are not seeking peace but persistently seek to sow the seeds of interconfessional and civilian conflict on Syrian soil," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters. Moscow did not apportion blame for the killings.

Read more on Reuters.com.

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The Associated Press obtained a video that purports to show the aftermath of an alleged massacre in the village of Tramseh, near Hama.

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How do Syria's fighters get their arms? An overview put together by Reuters explains that there are three gateways to the country -- Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq.

Syrian rebels are smuggling small arms into Syria through a network of land and sea routes involving cargo ships and trucks moving through Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq, maritime intelligence and Free Syrian Army (FSA) officers say.

Western and regional powers deny any suggestion they are involved in gun running. Their interest in the sensitive border region lies rather in screening to ensure powerful weapons such as surface to air missiles do not find their way to Islamist or other militants.

Read the full report here.

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syria This citizen journalism image made from video provided by Shaam News Network SNN, purports to show a victim wounded by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh, Syria about 15 kilometers (nine miles) northwest of the central city of Hama, Thursday, July 12, 2012. The accounts, some of which claim more than 200 people were killed in the violence Thursday, could not be independently confirmed, but would mark the latest in a string of brutal offensives by Syrian forces attempting to crush the rebellion. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN)


syria This citizen journalism image made from video provided by Shaam News Network SNN, purports to show a man mourning a victim killed by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh, Syria about 15 kilometers (nine miles) northwest of the central city of Hama, Thursday, July 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN)


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According to the Hama Revolutionary Council, a Syrian opposition group, more than 220 people have been killed in a new alleged massacre in Taramseh. Earlier reports said more than 100 people were killed. "More than 220 people fell today in Taramseh," the Council said in a statement. "They died from bombardment by tanks and helicopters, artillery shelling and summary executions."

Fadi Sameh, an opposition activist from Taramseh, told Reuters he had left the town before the reported massacre but was in touch with residents. "It appears that Alawite militiamen from surrounding villages descended on Taramseh after its rebel defenders pulled out, and started killing the people. Whole houses have been destroyed and burned from the shelling," Sameh claimed.

Read more on Reuters.com.

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Syrian activist Rami Jarrah tweets that Syrian State TV has confirmed deaths in Tremseh. "Terrorists" is often the term used by the Syrian regime for opposition forces.

@ AlexanderPageSY : Syrian State TV: clashes between security apparatus & terrorists in #Tremseh of #Hama leaves large numbers of terrorists killed #Syria

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@ Reuters : UPDATE: DEATH TOLL IN SYRIAN FORCES' ATTACK ON VILLAGE IN SYRIA'S HAMA REGION IS MORE THAN 200, MOSTLY CIVILIANS - OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS

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@ Reuters : At least 100 killed in Syrian village: opposition activists http://t.co/FG3fJwu8

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  • UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Kofi Anna

    UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Kofi Annan (L) leaves his hotel with Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad (R) on his way to a meeting with President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on May 29, 2012. The former UN chief arrived in Syria on May 28, and expressed 'horror' at the Houla massacre of more than 100 people as he began a visit aimed at salvaging his battered peace plan. AFP PHOTO/LOUAI BESHARA (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Seated under a portrait of Syria's embat

    Seated under a portrait of Syria's embattled president Bashar al-Assad, UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan gestures during a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem in Damascus on May 28, 2012. Annan expressed 'horror' at the Houla massacre of more than 100 people as he began his latest visit to the Syrian capital with the aim of salvaging his battered peace plan. AFP PHOTO/LOUAI BESHARA (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad

    Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad al-Makdissi addresses journalists in Damascus on May 27, 2012, stressing that the Syrian government was 'not at all' responsible for the massacre of at least 92 people in the central town of Houla which has sparked an international outcry. 'We completely deny responsibility for this terrorist massacre against our people,' Makdissi told a news conference. AFP PHOTO / LOUAI BESHARA (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • This frame grab made from an amateur video provided by Syrian activists on Monday, May 28, 2012, purports to show the massacre in Houla on May 25 that killed more than 100 people, many of them children. The amateur footage shows people running along a street, purportedly just after the attack on Houla started. (AP Photo/Amateur Video via AP video) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS CITIZEN JOURNALISM IMAGE

  • This frame grab made from an amateur video provided by Syrian activists on Monday, May 28, 2012, purports to show the massacre in Houla on May 25 that killed more than 100 people, many of them children. The amateur footage shows people running along a street, purportedly just after the attack on Houla started. (AP Photo/Amateur Video via AP video) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS CITIZEN JOURNALISM IMAGE

  • This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network taken Saturday, May 26, 2012 purports to show shrouded dead bodies following a Syrian government assault on Houla, Syria. The Syrian government denied Sunday its troops were behind an attack on a string of villages that left more than 90 people dead, blaming the killings on "hundreds of heavily-armed gunmen" who also attacked soldiers in the area. Friday's assault on Houla, an area northwest of the central city of Homs, was one of the bloodiest single events in Syria's 15-month-old uprising. The U.N. says 32 children under 10 were among the dead. (AP Photo) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS CITIZEN JOURNALISM IMAGE

  • This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network taken Saturday, May 26, 2012, purports to show a dead child following a Syrian government assault on Houla, Syria. The Syrian government denied Sunday its troops were behind an attack on a string of villages that left more than 90 people dead, blaming the killings on "hundreds of heavily-armed gunmen" who also attacked soldiers in the area. Friday's assault on Houla, an area northwest of the central city of Homs, was one of the bloodiest single events in Syria's 15-month-old uprising. The U.N. says 32 children under 10 were among the dead. (AP Photo) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS CITIZEN JOURNALISM IMAGE

  • This image made from amateur video released by Shaam News Network and accessed Saturday, May 26, 2012 purports to show covered bodies after a government assault on Houla, Syria. Government troops shelled a string of villages in central Syria before pro-regime thugs swept through the area, shooting people in the streets and in their homes in attacks that killed more than 90 people, activists said Saturday. The assault on Houla, an area northwest of the central city of Homs, is one of the bloodiest single events in Syria's 15-month-old uprising. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video) TV OUT, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CANNOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE CONTENT, DATE, LOCATION OR AUTHENTICITY OF THIS MATERIAL

  • This image made from amateur video released by Shaam News Network and accessed Saturday, May 26, 2012 purports to show an injured Syrian in a hospital in Houla, Syria. Government troops shelled a string of villages in central Syria before pro-regime thugs swept through the area, shooting people in the streets and in their homes in attacks that killed more than 90 people, activists said Saturday. The assault on Houla, an area northwest of the central city of Homs, is one of the bloodiest single events in Syria's 15-month-old uprising. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video) TV OUT, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CANNOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE CONTENT, DATE, LOCATION OR AUTHENTICITY OF THIS MATERIAL