U.S. closes Syria embassy amid security fears

The United States closed its embassy in Syria out of security concerns, the State Department announced.

The U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, and all American personnel have left the country, according to a statement issued Feb. 6 by the State Department. The staff already had been reduced late last year.

The embassy in Damascus was closed because of fears that it was not sufficiently protected from armed attack following the recent surge in violence in the country, according to the statement.

On Feb. 7, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced that they, too, have recalled their ambassadors from Syria, and expelled Syrian envoys from their capital cities.

The West’s efforts to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution against Syria were derailed Feb. 3 when the latest draft was vetoed by China and Russia.

Under the resolution, Syrian President Bashar Assad would remove his troops from Syrian cities and step down, transferring power to his vice president.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, during a trip this week to Damascus, accused the West of being “hysterical” regarding Syria. — j. wire services