Assad loyalists attack U.S. and French embassies: diplomats

The US flag flies over the US embassy in Damascus on October 30, 2008.

French embassy guards in Damascus fired live ammunition to disperse loyalists to President Bashar al-Assad who tried to break into the compound on Monday and are still surrounding it, diplomats in the Syrian capital said.

A similar crowd broke into the U.S. embassy but later left, they added. A U.S. embassy official said the response of the Syrian authorities was “slow and insufficient.”

There were no immediate reports of casualties in the attacks, which came three days after the U.S. and French ambassadors visited the city of Hama in an unprecedented show of support for pro-democracy demonstrators, who have been gathering in the hundreds of thousands in Hama despite deadly military assaults on the city, scene of a 1982 massacre by the military.

U.S. to call in Syrian diplomat over attack

The U.S. State Department plans to call in Syria’s senior diplomat in Washington to complain about an attack on the U.S. embassy in Damascus, a U.S. official said on Monday.

“We are calling in the Syrian charge (d’affaires) to complain,” said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity, saying no U.S. personnel were injured in the attack. “We feel they failed (in their responsibility to protect U.S. diplomats). We are going to condemn their slow response.”



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