Switzerland closes its embassy in Syria
Switzerland has decided to close its embassy in Damascus and called on all Swiss citizens to immediately leave Syria, Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter told RSR radio station.
Burkhalter said that "the embassy will be closed in the coming days," adding that by doing this Switzerland wants to send a strong signal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, RIA Novosti reported.
"We have quickly recalled our ambassador but maintained the work of the embassy to be available for some 150-180 Swiss citizens living there, with many of them having a dual citizenship," Burkhalter said.
Switzerland recalled its ambassador for consultations in August 2011 and the diplomat has not returned to Syria since then.
At least 5,400 people have been killed in the Syrian government's 11-month crackdown on protesters, according to the UN. Syrian authorities blame the violence on armed gangs affiliated with al-Qaeda and say more than 2,000 soldiers and police have been killed.