French ambassador attacked in Syria

AP News
Posted: Sep 24, 2011 2:44 PM
French ambassador attacked in Syria

A group of Syrians threw eggs and stones at France's ambassador to Syria on Saturday as he left a meeting in Damascus with a Greek Orthodox patriarch, an official said.

No injuries were reported to Ambassador Eric Chevallier, his aides or the patriarch, Ignatius IV, according to the diplomatic official in Paris.

Chevallier has had several confrontations with pro-government activists in Syria as his government and the European Union demand that Syrian President Bashar Assad end his government's violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators there.

The French diplomatic official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the attackers _ who included men and women _ also were armed with iron bars but did not appear to use them.

Syria has come under withering international criticism for its crackdown on protests, straining relations with embassies in Damascus.

On July 7 and 8, U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford and Chevallier traveled to Hama, Syria, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) north of the capital, in separate trips to express support for the Syrian people to demonstrate peacefully.

Hama residents told The Associated Press that the visits helped prevent attacks by security forces. But the regime seized on the visit to insist that foreign conspirators are behind the unrest, not true reform-seekers. Within hours of the visit being made public, regime supporters attacked the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus, smashing windows and painting graffiti.

Three French Embassy workers were injured.