World Bulletin / News Desk
Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it had expelled three people working at Syria's consulate in Jeddah, a new sign of ill feeling between the countries as Riyadh backs rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's government in Damascus.
"The steps were taken based on the public interest as their conduct ... was incompatible with the consular duties associated with their work," said a Foreign Ministry statement carried by state media, without giving further details.
The conservative kingdom, which this week is hosting Islam's annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca, closed its embassy in Damascus in March, a month after expelling Syria's ambassador to Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia has only granted haj visas to Syrians applying at consulates in neighbouring countries, instead of working with the government in Damascus to allocate visas to pilgrims.
Riyadh has led Arab efforts to isolate Assad's government, condemning its violent suppression of the uprising in August last year before orchestrating Arab League moves to impose sanctions.
It has supported the rebels with money and logistics and called for them to be armed.
Syria and its ally Shi'ite Muslim Iran have accused Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states in the region of fuelling the bloodshed by their backing of the rebels.
'After two series of negotiations without any results because of obstacles raised by the Saudis, Iranian pilgrims will unfortunately not be able to take part in the hajj,' state media reported
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The Saudi foreign minister has said that the removal of President Bashar al-Assad as part of a political transition in the violence-torn country.
The US State department has said that it is only " playing an advise and assist role,"