News / Middle East

Syria Accuses US of Inciting Unrest; US Envoy Attacked

Pro-Syrian regime protesters, shout slogans and hold up an Arabic placard read:
Pro-Syrian regime protesters, shout slogans and hold up an Arabic placard read:"Listen Sarkozy you checked the Syrian people's DNA and you found cells of honor that you don't have," as they protest in front the EU mission office, in Damascus, Sept. 29, 20

Syria increased its criticism of the United States, accusing Washington Thursday of inciting violence against security forces.  Earlier Thursday, government loyalists hurled tomatoes and stones at a U.S. envoy.

A state media report says a Foreign Ministry official accused the United States of encouraging "armed terrorist groups" to carry out attacks against Syrian troops.

The SANA news agency quotes the unnamed official as describing U.S. rhetoric as "irresponsible." The official also says the remarks could encourage violence and blamed U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner for some of them.

Eggs used by supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad to pelt the US Ambassador, Robert Ford when he entered the office of an opposition member in Damascus litter the ground, September 29, 2011
Eggs used by supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad to pelt the US Ambassador, Robert Ford when he entered the office of an opposition member in Damascus litter the ground, September 29, 2011

Meanwhile, U.S. ambassador Robert Ford eluded stones and tomatoes thrown his way by supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday. Witnesses says about 100 people moved in on Ford as he was heading into a meeting with an opposition leader in Damascus.

U.S. spokesman Toner said Ford and his staff returned unharmed to the embassy, but added that several embassy vehicles were badly damaged.

The U.S. envoy and French ambassador Eric Chevallier have been vocal critics of Mr. Assad's ongoing crackdown on dissent.

On Saturday, government loyalists threw stones and eggs as Chevallier as he was leaving a meeting.

President Assad has repeatedly sent out security forces to quell protests from anti-government activists who have been calling for his resignation.

The United Nations says the government crackdown has killed at least 2,700 people since mass protests started in March. Syria says the death toll is lower and includes members of the security forces.

The U.N. Security Council is considering a possible compromise resolution on Syria that avoids immediate sanctions but condemns escalating violence, as clashes between security forces and dissident soldiers continue.

On Wednesday, the Council discussed rival draft resolutions on the Syrian crisis drawn up by European powers and Russia.

France, Britain, Germany and Portugal proposed a new resolution in which they drop demands for immediate sanctions, but threaten Mr. Assad with action if he does not end his deadly crackdown.

However, Russia opposes any hint of sanctions. The latest version of its draft resolution seeks to condemn violence by all sides in Syria.

India, Brazil and some other non-permanent Council members also are against imposing punitive measures on Damascus.

Earlier attempts at an agreement ended in August with a presidential statement, which does not carry the same weight as a resolution. Diplomats say they hope to vote on the new draft by the end of the week.

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

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