Assad loyalists storm US, French embassies in Syria

Assad loyalists storm US, French embassies in Syria

Protesters loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad briefly broke into the US embassy in Damascus on Monday and security guards used live ammunition to prevent them storming the French embassy, diplomats said.

No casualties were reported in the attacks but a US official said Washington condemned Syria’s slow response and its failure to the prevent the assault on its embassy. The attacks followed a visit by the US and French ambassadors to the city of Hama last week in support of the hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators who have been gathering there despite attacks by Syrian forces.

“We are calling in the Syrian charge (d’affaires) to complain,” said the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We feel they failed (in their responsibility to protect US diplomats). We are going to condemn their slow response.”

Human rights groups say at least 1,400 civilians have been killed since an uprising began in March against Assad’s autocratic rule, posing the biggest threat to his leadership since he succeeded his father 11 years ago.

In other violence on Monday, Syrian forces killed one civilian and wounded 20 in heavy-machinegun fire on Homs, Syria’s third city, and went house-to-house arresting suspected opponents in Hama, human rights activists said.

Despite using force to crush the protests, Assad has also called for talks on reforms. But many opposition figures have refused to attend a two-day conference in the capital, saying it was futile as long as violence continued.

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