US Closes Embassy, Flees Syria

Ambassador Robert Ford and other diplomats leave country

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 6, 2012 8:52 AM CST

(Newser) – The US closed its embassy in Damascus today, pulling Ambassador Robert Ford and his 16 remaining staffers out of the country. Two of the staffers flew out last week, and the rest headed to Jordan today via convoy, CNN reports. Syria was notified of the move only after all the employees were out of the country. US officials today said that Bashar al-Assad's government was unable to protect the embassy.

"The government is getting stretched beyond its ability to control the various elements of violence in the country," one official said, noting Hillary Clinton had made the final decision based on recommendations from State Department staffers. "This is a decision we never take lightly." The US had warned last month that it would pull out if Assad didn't improve security, in the wake of a pair of car bombings in Damascus that the US suspects al-Qaeda had a hand in.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice speaks to reporters after the Security Council voted on a resolution backing an Arab League peace plan that calls for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down , Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 at United Nations headquarters. Russia and China vetoed the resolution....
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice speaks to reporters after the Security Council voted on a resolution backing an Arab League peace plan that calls for Syrian President Bashar...   (Mary Altaffer)
In this Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 file photo, the U.S. embassy building is seen in Damascus, Syria.
In this Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 file photo, the U.S. embassy building is seen in Damascus, Syria.   (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi, File)
This Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008 file photo shows a view of the US embassy in Damascus.
This Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008 file photo shows a view of the US embassy in Damascus.   (AP Photo/ Bassem Tellawi, File)
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