Hundreds of supporters of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad attacked the U.S. Embassy in Damascus on Monday, spray-painting walls with obscenities. Graffiti referring to American ambassador Robert Ford said, “”Ford get out now. The people want to kick out the dog,” according to Associated Press.
Pro-government Syrian protesters in Damascus at the U.S. Embassy (AP)
Syria’s government is absolutely furious because Ambassador Ford, along with France’s ambassador to Syria, Eric Chevallier, visited the city of Hama on Friday, to show solidarity with the protesters. It’s believed that their presence encouraged the enormous turnout of protesters. ( “10-Jul-11 News — Iran and Turkey struggle over future of Syria”)
According to State Dept. spokesman Victoria Nuland, the “thugs” went over the walls, climbed on the roof, and broke windows. “My understanding is that we had U.S. Marines around the facility, and when they made it clear that they were prepared to defend our facility, the mob went back over the walls the same way it had come.”
Nuland left open the option that the U.S. would send additional Marines to Damascus to protect the Embassy.
It’s suspected, but not known, that the attack was arranged by the Assad regime. However, the State Department says that the Assad regime “encouraged” the attack and was “slow to respond” when the Embassy requested help, according to CS Monitor.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made one of the harshest statements yet to come out of the Administration, according to AFP:
“President Assad is not indispensable and we have absolutely nothing invested in him… remaining in power. From our perspective, he has lost legitimacy. Our goal is to see that the will of the Syrian people for a democratic transformation occurs.”
If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time that the Administration has specifically called for an end to the Assad regime, as opposed to just encouraging him to reform.
France’s embassy in Damascus was also attacked on Monday. The French Foreign Ministry issued this statement, quoted by Al-Jazeera:
“For the second time in two days, the French embassy in Damascus, at the same time as the US embassy, was targeted for attacks and vandalism by well-organised groups, in view of Syrian security forces….A battering ram was used to try to break down the doors of our diplomatic mission, windows were broken, intrusions were made inside the embassy, three sentries were injured, and the ambassador’s car was destroyed. We call on the Syrian authorities… to respect the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations.”
An attack on a country’s embassy is equivalent to an attack on the country. With Turkey’s troops on the border, ready to invade, and with tensions growing in Damascus itself, the possibility of military conflict is growing by the day.