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AUSTRALIA has backed a French call for consideration of military intervention in Syria following world condemnation of the massacre in Houla.

More countries have now followed Canberra’s lead in expelling Syrian diplomats over last week’s killing of more than 100 people in the Syrian town, which has been blamed on Syrian troops or pro-Assad regime militiamen.

In a co-ordinated move, the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Bulgaria also kicked out Syrian diplomats overnight.

“This represents concerted global action by some of the world’s largest powers to make clear their revulsion at the recent massacre,” Foreign Minister Bob Carr said today.

“It’s also reinforcing the message being taken to the Assad regime by joint special envoy Kofi Annan,” Senator Carr said.

He said Australia was prepared to “talk about” a military response in Syria.

“We would need unanimity in the (UN) Security Council for that to take place.

“You’ve got to take account of the criticisms that China and Russia – as is their right – have made of the way intervention was managed in Libya,” he said.

Australia would continue to work through its permanent representative to the UN on a “unified international response” including the referral to the International Criminal Court of those responsible for the Houla massacre, Senator Carr said.

Other measures against the Assad regime under consideration include a UN arms embargo and a ramping up of financial and travel restrictions.

French President Francois Hollande says the use of armed force could be possible in Syria, but that it had to be carried out under UN auspices.

“An armed intervention is not excluded on the condition that it is carried out with respect to international law, meaning after deliberation by the United Nations Security Council,” Mr Hollande said in a television interview.

Survivors of the Houla massacre have blamed pro-regime gunmen for at least some of the carnage.

The Syrian regime has denied any role in the massacre, blaming the killings on “armed terrorists” who attacked army positions in the area and slaughtered innocent civilians. It has provided no evidence to support its narrative, nor has it given a death toll.

The Ausralian

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