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US Suspends Syria Embassy Operations On Attack Fears

us closes syria embassyThe US has suspended embassy operations in Damascus and all American personnel has now left Syria on fears that diplomats are not sufficiently protected from armed attack, said a US State Department spokeswoman.

"The recent surge in violence, including bombings in Damascus on December 23 and January 6, has raised serious concerns that our Embassy is not sufficiently protected from armed attack. We, along with several other diplomatic missions, conveyed our security concerns to the Syrian Government but the regime failed to respond adequately," said spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Ambassador Ford has left Damascus but he remains the United States Ambassador to Syria and its people, she said. He will continue his work and engagement with the Syrian people as head of the US' Syria team in Washington.

"Together with other senior U.S. officials, Ambassador Ford will maintain contacts with the Syrian opposition and continue our efforts to support the peaceful political transition which the Syrian people have so bravely sought," she said.

"We continue to be gravely concerned by the escalation of violence in Syria caused by the regime's blatant defiance of its commitments to the action plan it agreed to with the Arab League...It also underscores the urgent need for the international community to act without delay to support the Arab League’s transition plan before the regime’s escalating violence puts a political solution out of reach and further jeopardizes regional peace and security," said the spokeswoman.

In other developments, the Syrian Ambassador to the UK was summoned to hear Permanent Under-Secretary Simon Fraser's condemnation of the atrocities being committed by the Syrian regime in Homs which has come under heavy attack from the Syrian army, said a spokesman for the foreign office. France and Spain have also withdrawn their ambassadors to Syria.

Over the weekend, the UN Security Council rejected a resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar al Assad's replacement, a decision condemned by MEP Yiannakis Kassoulides who said it was tantamount to a death sentence on even more innocent Syrian people. The resolution was rejected by China and Russia, who objected on the grounds that it is not the UN's role to interfere with a country's political process.

Over 5000 people have been killed in anti-government demonstrations and the death toll has risen in recent days to the extent that most observers say that Syria has fallen into civil war.

(Photo: Ambassador Ford)

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