US Ambassador Visits Syria Flashpoint City
Regime accuses ambassador of interfering, destabilizing
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2011 3:23 AM CDT
Ambassador Robert Ford covers his nose during a visit to a mass grave in Jisr el-Shughour, Syria last month.   (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi)

(Newser) – America's ambassador to Syria visited one of the cities worst-hit by the crackdown against anti-government protesters yesterday, reports CNN. Robert Ford went to the city of Hama "to make absolutely clear with his physical presence that we stand with those Syrians who are expressing their right to speak for change," an embassy spokeswoman says. An estimated 500,000 people joined an anti-government rally in the city last Friday.

The Syrian government accused Ford of going to the city without authorization, saying the visit is "clear evidence of the US involvement in the ongoing events in Syria and its bids to aggravate the situations which destabilize Syria.'' An embassy spokeswoman says the Syrian government was told a delegation would be visiting Hama, although no Syrian "handlers" were taken and officials weren't informed about the ambassador's presence. The city has been a symbol of opposition since 1982, when a crackdown ordered by the present Syrian leader's father killed around 20,000 people, al-Jazeera notes.
 

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