THE US government says it “may have no choice” but to close its embassy in Damascus and remove all its personnel from Syria unless president Bashar al-Assad’s government takes extra steps to protect the mission.
A statement this weekend from the White House said there were “serious concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Damascus, including the recent spate of car bombs, and about the safety and security of embassy personnel”.
The crackdown on the uprising against Assad has killed an estimated 5,400 people since March.
Although the revolt began with peaceful protests, a strong-armed element has developed, and many are fighting the Assad regime.
Washington has asked Syria to take additional security measures to protect the US embassy, and the Syrian government “is considering that request”.
It also said it had warned Assad’s government that “unless concrete steps are taken in the coming days we may have no choice but to close the mission”.
The US removed its ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, from Damascus in October because of security problems. He returned to Syria in December.
The administration argued at the time that Ford’s presence in Syria was important for advancing US policy goals by meeting with opposition figures and serving as a witness to the continuing violence.
Yesterday, at least 15 people were killed in an ambush that targeted a police vehicle transporting prisoners in Syria.
State-run news agency Sana reported 26 others were wounded in the attack that occurred on the Idlib-Ariha highway.
It says the vehicle was hit by four explosive devices and that “terrorists” attacked an ambulance that arrived to help the wounded.
The British-based opposition group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, confirmed the incident.