Swiss recall ambassador to Syria, condemn violence

ZURICH Thu Aug 18, 2011 7:24am EDT

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland is recalling its ambassador to Syria and said it condemned the violence perpetrated by Syrian forces against civilians, amid increasing global calls for action to end the crackdown.

Countries generally recall ambassadors when they wish to signal strong criticism of another state.

"The actions of the Syrian security forces are not acceptable. For this reason, the FDFA has recalled the Swiss Ambassador in Damascus to Berne for consultations," the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Switzerland has a long tradition of upholding human rights and its diplomatic stance if often seen as setting a standard for other countries.

The move comes ahead of an expected call by the European Union and the United States for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

The Syrian government's crackdown is estimated to have killed at least 2,000 civilians since the protests began five months ago.

A spokesman for the Swiss foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment.

(By Catherine Bosley, editing by Rosalind Russell)

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