Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar)
AMMAN - Syria accused the United States on Thursday of inciting violence
against its security forces and said it would confront what it
described as attempts to interfere in its domestic affairs.
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statements from American administration officials...clearly indicate
that the United States is involved in encouraging armed groups to
practice violence against the Syrian Arab Army," a Foreign Ministry
supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad threw stones and tomatoes
at US ambassador Robert Ford and other US diplomats who were visiting an
opposition figure in Damascus, a witness and diplomatic sources said.
"Two embassy cars were damaged. The US delegation is still there and the crowd is surrounding the building," said the witness.
"They are chanting 'Abu Hafez (father of Hafez)'," the witness said, a nickname for Assad.
witness said the diplomats were visiting Hassan Abdelazim, a centrist
politician who has been demanding an end to a crackdown on a six month
pro-democracy uprising as a condition for any talks with Assad.
In Washington, State Department officials were not immediately available to comment.
was the second attack on US diplomats since the pro-democracy uprising
erupted in Syria in March. In July, following a visit by Ford to the
city of Hama, scene of large demonstrations for political freedoms,
Assad supporters attacked the US embassy compound in Damascus.
Ford has infuriated Syria's rulers by cultivating links with the grassroots protest movement.
Ford was cheered by protesters when he went in July to the city of
Hama, which was later stormed by tanks. He also visited a town that has
witnessed regular protests in the southern province of Deraa, ignoring a
new ban on Western diplomats traveling outside Damascus and its
The United States, seeking to convince Assad to scale
back an alliance with Iran and backing for militant groups, moved to
improve relations with Assad when US President Barack Obama took office,
sending Ford to Damascus in January to fill a diplomatic vacuum since
Washington pulled out its ambassador in 2005.
deteriorated after the uprising broke out and Assad ignored
international calls to respond to protester demands that he dismantle
the police state and end five decades of autocratic rule.