Saudi expels Syria consulate workers

New sign of ill feeling as Riyadh backs rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's gov't
Saudi expels Syria consulate workers
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)
By Reuters
Fri 26 Oct 2012 09:46 AM

Saudi Arabia hasexpelled three people working at Syria's consulate in Jeddah, a new sign of ill feeling between the countries as Riyadh backs rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's government in Damascus.

"The steps were taken based on the public interest as their conduct ... was incompatible with the consular duties associated with their work," said a Foreign Ministry statement carried by state media, without giving further details.

The conservative Islamic kingdom, which this week is hosting Islam's annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca, closed its embassy in Damascus in March, a month after expelling Syria's ambassador to Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia has only granted haj visas to Syrians applying at consulates in neighbouring countries, instead of working with the government in Damascus to allocate visas to pilgrims.

Riyadh has led Arab efforts to isolate Assad's government, condemning its violent suppression of the uprising in August last year before orchestrating Arab League moves to impose sanctions.

It has supported the rebels with money and logistics and called for them to be armed.

Syria and its ally Shi'ite Muslim Iran have accused Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states in the region of fuelling the bloodshed by their backing of the rebels.

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