Syria, US Trade Accusations in Wake of Embassy Attacks

Posted July 12th, 2011 at 2:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Syria has sharply criticized U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after she said President Bashar al-Assad had “lost legitimacy.”

The state-run SANA news agency said Tuesday the government “vehemently denounces” Clinton's remarks. The news agency quotes an official who calls her comments “further evidence” of “blatant U.S. interference” in Syria's internal affairs.

On Monday, Clinton said Mr. Assad was “not indispensable.” She also said the U.S. had “nothing invested in him remaining in power.” The White House echoed her sentiments on Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council condemned in the “strongest terms” this week's attacks against the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus.

On Monday, loyalists to Mr. Assad mobbed the U.S. embassy compound, broke windows and briefly raised a Syrian flag. The U.S. State Department said Tuesday that the embassy is operational and U.S. and Syrian officials are working to repair damage.

Security guards at the French embassy fired shots into the air on Monday to keep demonstrators from entering the grounds. Officials said three embassy staffers were injured during the unrest.

The incidents took place after U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford and French Ambassador Eric Chevallier traveled to the flashpoint city of Hama last week to show solidarity with residents facing a military crackdown on dissent.

In another development, Syria wrapped up a three-day session of a government-organized “national dialogue” on Tuesday. The state news agency says the participants issued a statement in which they said stability and a greater commitment to reforms are high priorities.

The statement says dialogue participants rejected foreign interference and said that dialogue is the only way to end Syria's political crisis.

Syria's main opposition groups did not participate in the talks.

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