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Jordan, Syria Expel Diplomats

  • VOA News

FILE - Bahjat Suleiman, Syrian ambassador to Jordan, gestures during a news conference at the Syrian embassy in Amman, May 22, 2013.

FILE - Bahjat Suleiman, Syrian ambassador to Jordan, gestures during a news conference at the Syrian embassy in Amman, May 22, 2013.

Jordan has expelled Syria's ambassador, prompting Damascus to retaliate by barring Jordan's top diplomat.

A spokeswoman for Jordan's foreign ministry said Monday that Syrian Ambassador Bahjat Suleiman has been given 24 hours to leave the country.

In a statement carried by the state-run news agency Petra, she said Suleiman used his platform in Jordan to level what she called "unfounded accusations" against the kingdom and its allies. The spokeswoman said Suleiman made repeated insults about the country in his meetings, writings and social media postings.

In some of his social media postings, Suleiman has criticized Jordan for accepting a U.S. Patriot missile battery to counter the threat posed by the Syrian civil war. He also has accused Jordan of providing a safe haven for Syrian army defectors.

Syria quickly responded to Jordan's decision and announced Monday that it had made the Jordanian charge d'affaires in Damascus a persona non grata. Jordanian officials say the diplomat is not currently in Syria.

Jordan hosts more than 600,000 refugees from neighboring Syria's civil war.

Jordan maintains an embassy in Damascus and has avoided publicly supporting Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow Assad, calling instead for a political solution to a war that has cost over 100,000 lives.

The Western-backed kingdom has harbored more than one million refugees from neighboring Syria's civil war.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Joudeh had threatened the envoy last June with expulsion after Facebook posts that said Syria would target the kingdom when the U.S. deployed two Patriot missile batteries.

Some information contributed by Reuters.

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