U.S AND FRENCH EMBASSIES IN DAMASCUS STORMED
Supporters of the Syrian government have stormed, on Monday 07/11/2011, the US and French embassies in Damascus, prompting strong condemnation by the two countries’ officials.
The mob smashed windows and raised a Syrian flag at the US diplomatic compound and wrote anti-American graffiti referring to the US ambassador as a “dog”. A US official said the mob breached the wall of the embassy compound before being dispersed by Marine Corps guards (see also – Damascus US Embassy).
No buildings were entered and there were no injuries to embassy personnel, but the chancery building was damaged and Syrian security forces were slow to respond, the official said.
The state department says it will summon a senior Syrian diplomat on Monday to condemn the assault and demand that Syria uphold international treaty obligations to protect foreign diplomatic missions.
At around the same time, security guards at the French embassy in Damascus fired into the air and used tear gas to drive back supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad. One witness said three protesters were injured when embassy guards beat them with clubs (see also – Baghdad 06.20.11). “Syrians demonstrated peacefully in front of the French embassy but they were faced with bullets,” Hiam al-Hassan, a witness, said.
The embassy attacks came just days after the USA and French ambassadors visited the opposition stronghold of Hama in central Syria (see also – Hama Massacre). The Syrian government called the visits to Hama interference in the country’s internal affairs and accused the ambassadors of undermining Syria’s stability.
Robert Ford, the US ambassador to Syria, has of late harshly criticized the Syrian government’s crackdown on the popular uprising. He attacked the Syrian government on Sunday for allowing rallies by supporters while beating up anti-government demonstrators. The pro-Assad demonstrations in Syria are known as “mnhebak”, or “we love you”.
“I have not seen the police assault a ‘mnhebak’ demonstration yet,” Ford recently wrote on the embassy’s Facebook page. “On July 9, a ‘mnhebak’ group threw rocks at our embassy, causing some damage. They resorted to violence, unlike the people in Hama, who have stayed peaceful.”
* Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has issued, later on Monday, one of the Washington’s strongest condemnations yet of Syria’s government, saying President Bashar al-Assad has lost his “legitimacy”.
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