The White House will formally protest attacks on the U.S. embassy in Syria after mobs climbed over and vandalized the walls of the Damascus compound and attacked the ambassador’s residence, the Associated Press reported.
A separate AP report from Beirut — most Western journalists are banned from Syria — reported protesters smashed windows and raised a Syrian flag on the compound Monday. The compound walls have been covered with anti-American graffiti that refers to U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford as a “dog,” the witnesses said.
Ford’s residence has also been attacked by the pro-government mob, the AP reported.
The Obama administration will ask the Syrian government to reimburse it for damage caused to the embassy.
The French embassy was also attacked, with French officials firing machine guns into the air to disperse protestors, after Ford and the French ambassador visited an anti-government protest in the Syrian town of Hama.
Meanwhile Ford posted a lengthy and scathing note — in English and Arabic, in which he is fluent — on the embassy’s Facebook page, condemning the Syrian government for cracking down on pro-democracy protests while allowing mobs and vandals to attack the U.S. embassy.
“We respect the right of all Syrians – and people in all countries - to express their opinions freely and in a climate of mutual respect. We wish the Syrian government would do the same – and stop beating and shooting peaceful demonstrators. I have not seen the police assault a (pro-Assad group known as a mnhebak) demonstration yet. I am glad – I want all Syrians to enjoy the right to demonstrate peacefully. On July 9 a mnhebak group threw rocks at our embassy, causing some damage. They resorted to violence, unlike the people in Hama, who have stayed peaceful. Go look at the Ba’ath or police headquarters in Hama – no damage that I saw.”
“Other protesters threw eggs and tomatoes at our embassy. If they cared about their fellow Syrians the protesters would stop throwing this food at us and donate it to those Syrians who don’t have enough to eat. And how ironic that the Syrian Government lets an anti-U.S. demonstration proceed freely while their security thugs beat down olive branch-carrying peaceful protesters elsewhere.”
“The people in Hama have been demonstrating peacefully for weeks. Yes, there is a general strike, but what caused it? The government security measures that killed protesters in Hama. In addition, the government began arresting people at night and without any kind of judicial warrant. Assad had promised in his last speech that there would be no more arrests without judicial process. Families in Hama told me of repeated cases where this was not the reality. And I saw no signs of armed gangs anywhere – not at any of the civilian street barricades we passed.”
“Hama and the Syrian crisis is not about the U.S. at all. This is a crisis the Syrian people are in the process of solving. It is a crisis about dignity, human rights, and the rule of law. We regret the loss of life of all Syrians killed, civilians and security members both, and hope that the Syrian people will be able to find their way out of this crisis soon. Respect for basic human rights is a key element of the solution.”
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