London, June 5 : Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has blamed "foreign meddling" for division in the country.
Last week, at least 13 countries expelled Syrian diplomats protesting a massacre of more than 100 people, including 49 children, in Houla area of Homs province. Turkey expelled all Syrian embassy staff.
In what it described as a "reciprocal move" Tuesday, Syria announced that 17 diplomats from Britain, the US, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany and Canada were now considered "personae non gratae".
All Turkish diplomatic staff were also declared unwelcome.
"The Syrian Arab Republic still believes in the importance of dialogue based on principles of equality and mutual respect," a foreign ministry statement said.
"We hope the countries that initiated these steps will adopt those principles, which would allow relations to return to normal again," it said.
Many Western states have already withdrawn their ambassadors on security grounds or for political reasons.
US ambassador Robert Ford was called back to Washington in October last year over fears for his safety, while all British embassy staff were withdrawn in March. France also closed its embassy that month in protest at the "scandalous" repression of dissent by the government.
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