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

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures. For now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid