Switzerland on Tuesday declared its Syrian ambassador 'persona non grata' amid international outrage over the Houla massacre.

"/> Switzerland on Tuesday declared its Syrian ambassador 'persona non grata' amid international outrage over the Houla massacre.

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SYRIA

Swiss declare Syrian envoy ‘persona non grata’

Switzerland on Tuesday declared its Syrian ambassador 'persona non grata' amid international outrage over the Houla massacre.

The Swiss joined other Western governments in ordering out its Syrian diplomat after 108 people, including 49 children, were killed in the central town last week.

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) said in a statement it had decided to pronounce ambassador Lamia Chakkour, who is based in Paris where she also represents her country, as “persona non grata”.

“The FDFA has made the Syrian foreign ministry aware of the decision,” it said, citing “systematic violations” of UN Security Council resolutions and a failure to implement the six-point peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

Annan met President Bashar al-Assad for crunch talks on Tuesday as France, Australia, Canada and others announced the expulsion of their Syrian diplomats.

This did not go far enough for the Syrian opposition which demanded that the UN Security Council approve Libya-style military intervention to end almost 15 months of violence.

The Syrian authorities have repeatedly blamed “terrorist” groups for the killings in Houla.

Switzerland said on Sunday that the massacre could be considered a war crime and that it was up to the UN Security Council to consider asking the Hague-based International Criminal Court to investigate crimes committed in Syria “by all parties”.

More than 13,000 people have been killed, most of them civilians, since the uprising against Assad’s regime erupted in March last year, according to figures from the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

SYRIA

Swiss woman stands trial for attempting to join Islamic State

A 31-year-old woman from Winterthur who tried to travel to Syria to join Islamic State (IS) is standing trial under Swiss anti-terror laws.

Swiss woman stands trial for attempting to join Islamic State
The federal criminal court in Bellinzona. Photo: Swiss Confederation/OFCL

The alleged ‘jihadi tourist' appeared before Switzerland's federal criminal court in Bellinzona on Friday, the Swiss news agency SDA reported. 

In December 2015, the woman, accompanied by her four-year-old child, attempted to travel to Syria via Greece and Turkey in order to join IS, the authorities allege. 

Her intended destination was Raqqa, which was at the time an IS stronghold in Syria.

The woman was prevented from continuing her journey by the Greek authorities and was arrested at Zurich airport on her return to Switzerland in January 2016. 

The Swiss attorney general's office filed an indictment against the Swiss national for offences under the federal law that bans terror groups including Isis. 

According to the indictment, the woman radicalized herself through internet propaganda after converting to Islam in 2009.

It says the Swiss national believed it was the duty of all Muslims to support IS.

She said she rejected western values.

This is only the second case concerning a so-called ‘jihadi tourist' to go before Switzerland's federal criminal court. 

The first prosecution of its kind took place in 2016, when a 26-year-old man was found guilty of attempting to travel to join Isis and given an 18-month suspended jail sentence.

Islamic State has been banned in Switzerland since 2014.