Pro-Assad protesters in Syria 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The US on Thursday condemned an attack against its ambassador to Syria, calling it an attempt to intimidate a diplomat witnessing the "brutality" of the government.
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Supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad hurled rocks and
tomatoes at US ambassador Robert Ford's convoy as he visited an
opposition figure in Damascus on Thursday and Syria accused Washington
of inciting violence and meddling in its affairs.
kinds of assaults against diplomatic personnel, including our
ambassador, are unwarranted and unjustifiable," White House spokesman
Jay Carney told a daily news briefing.
Assad's crackdown on six
months of pro-democracy protests has envenomed relations with the United
States, which has imposed fresh sanctions and rallied world pressure on
US President Barack Obama took office in 2009 pledging to engage in dialogue with Damascus and named Ford as ambassador.
embassy cars were damaged," said a witness, who asked not to be
identified, adding that the demonstrators were chanting "Abu Hafez
(father of Hafez)", a nickname for Assad.
The diplomats were
visiting Hassan Abdelazim, a centrist politician who has demanded an end
to Assad's crackdown as a condition for any opposition dialogue with
was already inside the building when about 200 Assad supporters
attacked the embassy vehicles with large rocks and street signs with
concrete bases. Embassy staff inside the vehicles were not harmed.
Police later extracted the convoy.
The Syrian government said
that once they were alerted to the confrontation, authorities "took all
necessary procedures to protect the ambassador and his team and secure
their return to their place of work." There was no immediate comment
from the State Department in Washington.
Soon after the incident, the Syrian Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing the United States
of "encouraging armed groups to practice violence against the Syrian Arab Army".
attack was the second on US diplomats since protests erupted in March.
Assad supporters assaulted the US embassy in July after Ford visited the
flashpoint city of Hama, winning cheers from protesters who later faced
a tank-led crackdown.