US blames Syrian government for embassy attack in Damascus
In a sharp rebuke of the Assad regime, Secretary of State Clinton called the embassy attack a failed attempt to deflect attention from the brutal crackdown on protesters.
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The US lashed out at Syria after an assault on the US Embassy in Damascus Monday, heaping blame on President Bashar al-Assad's regime for instigating the protests and for standing by when they escalated into an attack.
Syrian troops did nothing to disperse the angry crowd around the US embassy, even as protesters began climbing a fence, scaling the roof of one of the embassy buildings, knocking out security cameras, and smashing windows, the Los Angeles Times reported. At the French embassy, which also came under attack, security guards fired warning shots in the air after Syrian soldiers there also failed to step in – not even when protesters began using a battering ram to try to break in.
The protesters were responding to a visit Friday by US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and French Ambassador Eric Chevallier to Hama, one of several Syrian cities where antigovernment protests have been violently quashed by the regime. Their visit brought attention to the nonviolent nature of the protests – which runs counter to the regime's description – and "may have prevented security forces from unleashing more firepower to crush the demonstrations," the LA Times reports.
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused the Syrian government of allowing the embassy attack to happen in a bid to deflect its citizens' attention from the country's uprising. She warned Mr. Assad that he was on shaky ground with the US, the Guardian reported. International law requires that host countries protect foreign mission staff and property.
"By either allowing or inciting this kind of behavior by these mobs against American and French diplomats and their property, they are clearly trying to deflect attention from their crackdown internally and to move the world's view away from what they are doing," she said. "It just doesn't work."
"President Assad is not indispensable and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power," she added. "From our perspective, he has lost legitimacy."