News / Middle East

Crowds Attack US, French Embassies in Damascus

A man checks the damaged U.S. embassy after pro-government protesters attacked the embassy compound in Damascus, Syria, July 11, 2011
A man checks the damaged U.S. embassy after pro-government protesters attacked the embassy compound in Damascus, Syria, July 11, 2011
Al Pessin

Pro-government crowds attacked the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus Monday, in the latest escalation of Syrian government anger over foreign moral support for the country’s pro-democracy protesters.  At the same time, the government crackdown continued in the central city of Homs.  

According to reports from Damascus, the crowd at the U.S. embassy breached the perimeter wall and damaged at least one building in the compound before being dispersed by U.S. Marine guards.

U.S. officials in Washington accused Syrian security forces, who are supposed to protect the embassy, of reacting slowly and allowing the pro-government crowd through. No injuries were reported among protesters or embassy staff.  

Protesters also attacked the U.S. ambassador’s residence a short distance away - as well as the French embassy.

The two countries’ ambassadors made surprise visits to the restive town of Hama last week, prompting formal protests from Syria and two days of street demonstrations against the United States and France.  Syria says the ambassadors are inciting anti-government unrest. But that unrest began weeks ago, and activists say the government’s crackdown has killed 1,600 people. Syria's government says hundreds of security force members have also been killed.

The United States and France, along with other Western nations, have expressed support for Syria’s pro-democracy protesters and condemned the government’s crackdown, which continued Monday in the central city of Homs.

But the Western nations have not moved to intervene to protect the opposition protesters, nor called for the removal of Syria’s government, as they have in Libya.

The former British ambassador to Libya, Richard Dalton, now at London’s Chatham House, says the difference is based on what he calls “an unfortunate fact of international life.”

“And that relates to the fact that the international community acts through the interests of nation-states, and the interest of a nation-state is only to intervene in the way it did in Libya if the situation is of limited extent and likely to be of limited duration," said Dalton.

Dalton says there is no power, or group of powers, prepared to intervene on the scale that would be necessary in Syria, which has a much stronger military and a much more strategic place in the Middle East than Libya does.

While the protests and crackdown continued Monday, the government held the second day of its “national dialogue.” Some opposition figures are attending, and have criticized the government in sessions attended by Vice-President Farouk Al-Sharaa.  

The vice-president says the government is ready to end 48 years of one-party rule. But experts are skeptical, and the main opposition leaders are boycotting the meetings, saying there can be no real dialogue until the crackdown ends and imprisoned activists are released.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid