U.S. to accuse Syria of failing to protect embassy

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 11, 2011 10:49 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States believes Syria failed to protect the U.S. embassy in Damascus from an attack and plans to summon the senior Syrian diplomat in Washington to complain, a U.S. official said on Monday.

Crowds loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus on Monday, diplomats said, three days after the French and U.S. ambassadors visited the city of Hama in a show of support for pro-democracy protests.

Syrian forces killed at least one civilian and injured 20 in Homs on Monday during the heaviest raids on the city since troops deployed there two months ago to crush dissent against Assad, residents said.

The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no one was injured in the attack on the U.S. embassy in Damascus and there was "no imminent threat" to U.S. personnel nor were any of the embassy buildings breached.

However, he said that some protesters managed to get inside the embassy compound and cause unspecified damage. He accused the Syrian authorities of failing in their responsibilities to protect U.S. diplomats and of being slow to respond.

"We are calling in the Syrian charge (d'affaires) to complain," said the official, saying Syrian forces eventually set up a perimeter to safeguard the embassy. "We feel they failed. We are going to condemn their slow response."

The official said the United States planned to remind the Syrian diplomat of Syria's responsibility under international agreements to protect foreign diplomats.

(Editing by Eric Beech)