US to Syria Diplomats: Get Out
DC embassy, consulates shut down
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2014 1:37 AM CDT
The Syrian Embassy is shown in Washington, DC.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Newser) – America has told Syria to close its embassy in Washington and ordered all Syrian diplomats in the US to hotfoot it back to Damascus by the end of this month. Daniel Rubinstein, the new US special envoy for Syria, says the decision was made as the civil war enters its fourth year "in consideration of the atrocities the Assad regime has committed against the Syrian people," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"We have determined it is unacceptable for individuals appointed by that regime to conduct diplomatic or consular operations in the United States," Rubinstein says. Honorary Syrian consulates in Houston and Troy, Mich., are also being shut down, the Guardian reports. The Syrian ambassador left the US a year ago, leaving behind staff to provide services like visa processing. Despite the embassy closure, Rubinstein says the US will maintain "diplomatic relations with the state of Syria as an expression of our longstanding ties with the Syrian people."