US Closes Embassy in Syria, Pulls Out Diplomats
The Obama administration has closed the U.S. Embassy in Damascus and pulled all American diplomats out of Syria.
Officials say Ambassador Robert Ford and other diplomats left Syria on Monday. It’s the most dramatic U.S. move so far after 11 months of a violent crackdown on dissent by President Bashar Assad’s regime.
The State Department warned last month it would close the embassy unless Assad’s government stepped up its protection. It cited concerns about the safety of personnel and recent car bombs.
The U.N. says Assad’s crackdown has killed more than 5,400 people since March. The revolt began with mostly peaceful protests, but armed rebels are now increasingly fighting the regime.
The Obama administration has long demanded that Assad step down. Officials insist his regime’s demise is inevitable.
Syrian forces intensified a shelling assault on the restive city of Homs Monday, activists said, the third day of an onslaught of violence that began just as Russia and China blocked a U.N. attempt to end the regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent. The U.S. closed embassy in Damascus, pulls American diplomats out of Syria
The Syrian military assault in Homs struck a makeshift medical clinic and residential areas, killing at least 23 people in the third day of a new offensive on the epicenter of the country’s uprising, activists said. Another 10 people were reported killed elsewhere.
In Cairo, Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby said he was “extremely alarmed and concerned” at the use of heavy weapons by regime forces. The League been an important diplomatic force trying to stem the bloodshed, and its proposal for a transition to democracy in Syria was the basis for the U.N. Security Council resolution that Russia and China blocked in a vote Saturday.