News / Middle East

US, France Confront Syria Over Embassy Protests

Pro-Syrian President Bashar Assad protesters, shout slogans as they protest against in front the U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria, July 8, 2011.
Pro-Syrian President Bashar Assad protesters, shout slogans as they protest against in front the U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria, July 8, 2011.

The United States has accused Syria of organizing an angry, two-day demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in Damascus to protest Ambassador Robert Ford's visit to the besieged anti-government town of Hama. France lodged similar complaints Sunday after a pro-government mob damaged its Syria missions.

A senior State Department official said protesters called on Ford to leave the country and threw food, glass and rocks at its embassy building. The official said Ford communicated Washington's displeasure with the events, which ended late Saturday, at a previously scheduled meeting with the Syrian foreign minister requested by the U.S.

In Paris, meanwhile, France summoned Syria's ambassador to complain about damage to the French embassy in Damascus and a consulate in Aleppo, Syria's second-largest city, during similar protests .

Ford and French Ambassador Eric Chevallier traveled to Hama Thursday and Friday to show solidarity with its residents, who have come under attack from government forces while staging some of the largest protests to date against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The visits have been interpreted as a strong diplomatic warning against escalating violence in the central city, which has been surrounded by tanks for a week.

Earlier, the Syrian foreign ministry said it had summoned the two envoys to protest their trips to the opposition stronghold. It called the visits "flagrant interference" in Syria's internal affairs meant to undermine the country's stability.

Mr. Assad appointed a new governor for Hama on Sunday. Anas Abdul-Razak is a medical doctor little known among opposition figures. The Syrian president last week fired his predecessor, who city residents said appeared to sympathize with protesters.

Also Sunday, Syria opened a national dialogue on political reform. Some opposition activists and intellectuals joined the talks, but most prominent Syrian dissidents boycotted the conference to protest Mr. Assad's deadly crackdown on the opposition uprising.

At the meeting, broadcast live on state television, a number of speakers condemned the government's security forces and its violence against protesters. But others repeated Mr. Assad's contention that foreign agitators are attempting to destabilize Syria.

Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa, who spoke at the event, said he hoped the two-day conference would help launch what he called Syria's transition to a "pluralistic democratic state in which all citizens enjoy equality." Al-Sharaa acknowledged the government would not have launched such a high-level dialogue if not for the blood shed by civilians and security forces.

Mr. Assad proposed the event last month as a gesture to the opposition, which has been holding regular mass protests since March to demand an end to his family's four-decade rule of the country.

Rights groups say Syrian security forces have killed at least 1,600 civilians in the crackdown, while the government blames the violence on terrorists and Islamists who it says have killed hundreds of security personnel.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim 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.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid