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Monday
Jul112011

Protesters Attack US and French Embassies in Syria

The Syrian flag flutters outside the damaged windows of the French Embassy following a gathering of pro-government protesters in Damascus on July 11, 2011. LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images(DAMASCUS) -- Pro-government protesters attacked the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus on Monday.

Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been protesting outside the two embassies since Friday after Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador, and Eric Chevallier, the French ambassador, separately visited the city of Hama on Thursday to show support for anti-government protesters.

Officials tell ABC News that nearly 300 protesters surrounded the U.S. embassy with some making it to the roof of the chancery building before being stopped by U.S. Marine guards. Mr. Ford's residence, which is a few blocks from the embassy, was attacked shortly after. Damage to both buildings includes spray paint and broken windows from thrown rocks, fruits, and vegetables. At the French embassy, windows were broken and the ambassador’s vehicle was damaged. French guards fired live shots to disperse the protesters.

BBC News reports that in a statement, the U.S. State Department said, "One of the basic obligations of a government under the Vienna Convention is protection of diplomatic facilities. On this, as in other areas such as protection of human rights, the Syrian government failed."

In a statement, ABC News reports that the French embassy echoed the U.S. State Department’s views on the role of the Syrian forces under the Vienna convention, and said French security officers were forced to fire warning shots due to the Syrian forces' passivity during the attacks. The embassy also stated that the pro-government demostrators were well-organized, using a battering ram in an attempt to break down doors. They reported that three employees were injured.

Syria is facing international criticism for its violent crackdown of opposition forces that has reportedly killed more than 1,000 people.

The United States says it plans to file complaints and demand compensation from the Syrian government for damages.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio