US cuts back on staff at Damascus embassy

AP News
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Posted: Jan 11, 2012 5:06 PM
US cuts back on staff at Damascus embassy

The U.S. is cutting back on staff at its embassy in Syria because of security concerns.

The State Department says it has ordered a number of embassy employees to leave as soon as possible. And it reminded Americans to avoid traveling to Syria.

The travel warning was issued Wednesday as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized Syrian President Bashar Assad for _ as she put it _ "only making excuses" about the continued violence.

The U.N. says at least 5,000 have been killed in 10 months of unrest.

The Damascus embassy's consular section will no longer offer public hours, with services by appointment only. The travel warned that the embassy's ability to help Americans in the event of an emergency was now "extremely limited."