Syrians shout slogans in protests 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer )
Protesters loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad briefly broke
into the US embassy in Damascus on Monday and security guards used live
ammunition to prevent them storming the French embassy, diplomats said.
casualties were reported in the attacks but a US official said
Washington condemned Syria's slow response and its failure to the
prevent the assault on its embassy.
US, French envoys in Syria's Hama for protests
4 killed in Syria as US, French envoys visit Hama
attacks followed a visit by the US and French ambassadors to the city
of Hama last week in support of the hundreds of thousands of
pro-democracy demonstrators who have been gathering there despite
attacks by Syrian forces.
The US State Department on Monday formally condemned Syria for failing
to protect the US embassy complex in Damascus from a violent assault it
said was encouraged by a pro-government Syrian television station.
"A television station that is heavily influenced by Syrian authorities
encouraged this violent demonstration," a State Department spokesperson
said in a statement."
"We strongly condemn the Syrian government's refusal to protect our
embassy, and demand compensation for damages. We call on the Syrian
government to fulfill its obligations to its own citizens as well," the
"We are calling in the Syrian charge [d'affaires] to complain," said the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"We feel they failed [in their responsibility to protect US diplomats]. We are going to condemn their slow response."
Human rights groups say at least 1,400 civilians have been killed since
an uprising began in March against Assad's autocratic rule, posing the
biggest threat to his leadership since he succeeded his father 11 years
In other violence on Monday, Syrian forces killed one civilian and
wounded 20 in heavy-machinegun fire on Homs, Syria's third city, and
went house-to-house arresting suspected opponents in Hama, human rights
Despite using force to crush the protests, Assad has also called for
talks on reforms. But many opposition figures have refused to attend a
two-day conference in the capital, saying it was futile as long as
"Dialogue can only work when both parties respect each other and look at
each other as equals," said Ayman Abdel-nour, the Gulf-based editor of
all4syria.com website. "At the moment, there is no dialogue."
Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Shara told the opening ceremony of the
Damascus conference on Sunday that the authorities would open a new
page, hinting at allowing political parties, other than the ruling Baath
Party, to operate.
The meeting was expected to discuss legislation which would allow a multi-party system and constitutional amendments.
But independent analysts said reform would remain on paper as long as
the security apparatus and Assad loyalists continue to operate with
impunity against demonstrators.
Hilal Khashan, a Lebanon-based political commentator, said Assad's call for dialogue was not serious and aimed at buying time.
"If the regime was serious about reforms, they would change their
security measures. Nobody in their sound mind would expect anything from
Damascus as genuine political reform. The regime is buying time," he