Ottawa, Canada- As more reports emerged from Syria of people being massacred and tortured, Canada announced that it has closed its embassy in the country.
Canada closes its embassy in Syria; an announcement made the same day the federal government said it would try to tighten the financial squeeze on the country's leadership.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Monday services at the embassy and consulate in Syria are being suspended "effective immediately."
"Canada has maintained its diplomatic presence in Syria - despite the risks - to monitor developments on the ground and to deliver tough and frank messages to the Syrian authorities," Baird said in a statement. "We continue to reiterate: (President Bashar) al-Assad must go. Change will happen. Syrians will have their day - and Canada stands with the Syrian people in their push for a better, brighter future."
Baird made the announcement following another bloody weekend in the country where humanitarian aid has been blocked from reaching civilians in Homs, according to the press reports.
Earlier Monday, Baird said Canada would widen its economic sanctions against Syria, freezing the assets of seven government ministers. Baird said the sanctions wouldn't be lifted until the president handed over power.
The sanctions now cover 115 individuals and 39 entities, including, as of Monday, the Central Bank of Syria. "The continuing, appalling violence perpetrated by the Assad regime on the people of Syria compels us to again tighten the vice on those responsible," Baird said in a statement.
"These additional measures include a complete ban on the provision or acquisition of financial or other related services, as well as sanctions on the Syrian central bank and seven high-ranking Syrian officials implicated in the violence."
Press reports also added “No one at the Syrian embassy in Ottawa could be reached for comment Monday.”
The closure of the embassy follows similar moves by other countries, including the United States, Britain and, most recently, France, which made the announcement after the death of two French journalists in the city of Homs last week.