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Anti-regime rebels around the country regularly attack military convoys and checkpoints, killing soldiers.
Syria’s international isolation deepened in response to the killings. Governments around the world expelled Syrian ambassadors and diplomats Tuesday, an unusual, coordinated blow to Assad’s regime.
The United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands took action Tuesday against Syrian diplomats. Britain’s foreign secretary said the countries involved in Tuesday’s expulsions would also push for tougher sanctions against Syria.
Longtime Syrian ally Russia has largely stood by Damascus, although Moscow is growing increasingly critical — particularly over the Houla massacre. On Tuesday, however, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused unnamed countries of trying to use the Houla killings "as a pretext for taking military measures."
He said such nations sought to impede Annan’s plan because it seeks dialogue between Syrians, not regime change.
Syria’s unrest began in March 2011, with protests calling for political change. Government troops swiftly cracked down at the uprising spread, and many in the opposition have taken up arms to defend their towns and attack government troops.
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