News / Middle East

Syria Restricts Travel of US, French Envoys

Syria Restricts Travel of US, French Envoys
Syria Restricts Travel of US, French Envoys

Syria has ordered the U.S. and French ambassadors not to travel outside Damascus without permission after they angered the government by visiting the flashpoint city of Hama this month.

Foreign Minister Walid Moallem announced the restrictions for U.S. envoy Robert Ford and France's Eric Chevallier on Wednesday.  He said if they defy the order, Syria will impose a ban on any diplomatic travel more than 25 kilometers outside the capital.

Moallem added that Syria has not expelled the two envoys because it wants to develop better relations with the United States and France in the future.

Ford and Chevallier say they traveled to Hama to show solidarity with residents who are under pressure from the government's crackdown on dissent.

Crackdown

Meanwhile, activists say Syrian forces are continuing the crackdown on Wednesday, with sweeps through areas that include Damascus suburbs.

Also Wednesday, a prominent human rights group said it fears Syria is torturing dozens of men who were detained last Saturday and Sunday after mass arrests outside Damascus.

Amnesty International says Syria is holding the men incommunicado after arbitrarily arresting them in raids in the suburb of Qatana.

The group wants Syria to reveal the detained men's whereabouts and ensure they are protected from torture and other ill treatment.

Earlier, Syrian rights activists and witnesses said pro-government forces had shot and killed at least 13 people since Monday in the central city of Homs, a center of recent protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

It is difficult to verify the accounts of the violence in Syria because its government has barred foreign media from reporting and traveling freely in the country.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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