U.S. Condemns Attack on Envoy in Syria

Posted September 29th, 2011 at 2:15 pm (UTC-5)
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The Obama Administration has condemned an attack by Syrian government loyalists who hurled tomatoes and stones Thursday at U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford.

The U.S. State Department said Ford was confronted by an angry mob as he prepared to meet with a Syrian opposition leader in Damascus. Witnesses say a group of about 100 people chanted pro-government slogans as they threw rocks and tomatoes towards Ford.

The ambassador was not hurt, but several embassy vehicles were badly damaged.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner condemned the incident as “inexcusable behavior” that is part of an “ongoing campaign” to intimidate U.S. diplomats. A White House spokesman called the attack “unwarranted” and “unjustified.”

Syrian state media accused Washington Thursday of inciting “armed groups” to carry out attacks against Syrian troops. The report cited Toner's recent comments condemning Syria's crackdown of anti-government protests.

Toner later told reporters in Washington that the allegations are an attempt by the Syrian government to divert attention away from its repression of dissent.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad has repeatedly sent out security forces to quell protests from anti-government activists who have been calling for his resignation.

The United Nations says the government crackdown has killed at least 2,700 people since mass protests started in March. Syria says the death toll is lower and includes members of the security forces.

The U.N. Security Council is considering a possible compromise resolution on Syria that avoids immediate sanctions but condemns escalating violence, as clashes between security forces and dissident soldiers continue.