Gunmen Attack U.S. Embassy in Syria

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Sep 12, 2006 8:23 AM

Four dead, no Americans hurt, apparently. Three of the dead are the gunmen:

Islamic militants attempted to storm the U.S. Embassy in Damascus on Tuesday using automatic rifles, hand grenades and at least one van rigged with explosives, the government said. Four people were killed in the brazen attack, including three of the assailants.

No Americans were hurt, and the attackers apparently did not breach the high walls surrounding the embassy's white compound in the city's diplomatic neighborhood.

But one of Syria's anti-terrorism forces was killed and at least 11 others were injured, the country's official news agency reported. The wounded including a police officer, two Iraqis and seven people employed at nearby technical workshop.

A Chinese diplomat also was hit in the face by shrapnel and slightly injured while standing on top of a garage at the Chinese Embassy, China's government news agency said.

I wonder why they did it:

Witnesses also said the gunmen tried to throw hand grenades into the embassy compound, shouting "Allah Akbar!" or "God is great!"...

After Tuesday's attack, pools of blood lay splattered on the sidewalk outside the embassy, along with a burned car apparently used by the attackers. A sports utility vehicle with U.S. diplomatic tags had a bullet hole through its front window, and the glass windows of nearby guard houses also were shattered.

Three of the attackers were killed by Syrian forces, one is injured and in custody.

ABC is reporting they blew up a car outside the embassy:

Gunmen apparently blew up a car outside the U.S. Embassy and exchanged fire with Syrian guards on Tuesday in a brazen attack on Damascus' diplomatic neighborhood. Syrian security forces killed three of the attackers, the government said.

The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, said a fourth assailant was wounded in what it called a "terrorist attack." The report, carried on state-run television, said an investigation was under way.

Ahh, the classic Reuters lede:

Four gunmen shouting religious slogans attacked the U.S. embassy in Damascus on Tuesday, but failed to harm any American diplomats before all four were killed, a Syrian official said.

Unspecified religious slogans? Perhaps it was something like, "Jesus loves me, this I know."

Ali Bubba is, fortunately, fluent in Reuters-ese, and he translates.

Sticky Notes has pictures.

Mere Rhetoric has extensive updates, starting early this morning when the news broke. They also have a little bit of snark about the "t-word." 

UPDATE 14 (6:00 EST): And it's not only Bloomberg! Look who's using the T word:

Syrian minister: 'Terrorists' attacked US embassy
attack (sic) on the US embassy in the center of the Syrian capital on Tuesday was a "terrorist operation", a government minister said. "Investigations are underway to find out more details," Interior Minister Bassam Abdel Majid told Syrian Television. (Reuters)

Personally, we're offended. We don't know what these gunmen wanted or where they came from. It's inappropriate to use a loaded term like "terrorist" this early into an investigation. For instance, we don't know if they were mentally disturbed or not (cf. every jihadist attack in the US on a Jewish target in the last two years). Or what if they're a "previously unknown" "resistance organization" dedicated to ending the unjust American occupation in Damascus. This Syrian minister really ought to have to attend some CAIR sensitivity classes.

Update: Video here, with a report that there were several car bombs, only one of which went off."It was meant to blow the main gate and allow the attackers into the embassy proper. It failed to do so, because the gate resisted." 

Update: The White House press corps is doing the gaggle right now and should have more info after it's over.