News / Middle East

    US Considers Closing Embassy in Syria

    A Syrian security man stands guard in front of the U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria, July 12 2011. (file photo)
    A Syrian security man stands guard in front of the U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria, July 12 2011. (file photo)

    The United States is warning that it may close its embassy in the Syrian capital due to the worsening security situation.

    The State Department issued a statement Friday saying that no decision has been made yet, but that a request has been made to Damascus to take concrete steps in the coming days to provide additional security measures.  

    The White House again called on President Bashar al-Assad to halt the 10-month old crackdown on protesters and step down, saying his end is inevitable. Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters in Washington that the Syrian president's hold on power is slipping.

    In Egypt, Arab League officials said the group is likely to extend the mandate of their monitors in Syria, which expired Thursday. Arab leaders are set to meet Sunday to review a report on the situation by the team's Sudanese chief and to decide whether to keep the team of about 165 observers in Syria for another month.

    Syrian opposition leaders called on the Arab League to seek foreign intervention because the observer mission has failed to tame violence in Syria.

    Syrian rights groups have criticized the observers' effectiveness, saying the Assad government has deceived the team and escalated deadly attacks on the opposition since the observers began work on December 26.

    Protesters came out in several Syrian cities Friday after prayers calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.  

    "We call on the Arab community and the international community to cancel the Arab League's observer mission and to issue a resolution from the United Nations condemning Bashar Assad's regime," said Syrian protester Mohammad Etri.

    Activists say security forces loyal to Assad were out in force. Syrian activist Rami Abdul-Rahman told VOA at least 4 people were killed - three civilians and one member of the security forces.

    Qatar's ruling emir has called for Arab troops to be deployed in Syria to stop the government crackdown. Syria has rejected the idea.

    The United Nations says violence linked to the uprising has killed more than 5,400 people. Syria says "terrorists" have killed about 2,000 members of the security forces since the unrest began.

    On Friday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy maintained France's non-interference stance on Syria, but said his government would not stand by as the bloodshed continues.

    "We don't want to interfere in Syrian affairs. And no one more than myself has tried with sincerity to reach out to Bashar Al-Assad [Syrian leader]. But at some stage, everyone has to face the reality. And France will not remain silent in front of the Syrian scandal," said Sarkozy.

    Russia and China repeatedly have refused to vote on a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria, proposed by Western nations.  Moscow, a longtime Damascus ally, refuses to place sanctions on Syria and insists the opposition is partly to blame.

    <p><span class="article11"><i><span style="font-size: 7pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;&quot;;">Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.</span></i></span></p>





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

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    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.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora