US summons Syrian charge d’affaires over embassy riots


The United States angrily summoned Syria’s charge d’affaires on Monday, accusing Damascus of an “outrageous” failure to meet its international obligations to protect foreign embassies.

Angry mobs besieged the US and French embassies earlier Monday in apparent retaliation for alleged interference in Syrian affairs by the countries’ ambassadors, who last week traveled to the flashpoint protest city of Hama.

Tensions have been escalating sharply between Damascus and Washington over the Syrian government’s fierce response to pro-democracy protests. Activists say 1,300 civilians have been killed and 12,000 arrested since mid-March.

US officials have accused President Bashar al-Assad’s regime of orchestrating protests at foreign embassies for propaganda purposes and to punish the French and American ambassadors for visiting Hama.

After angry mobs stormed the US embassy for the second time in three days, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the Syrian charge d’affaires Mounir Koudmani was being summoned — in place of Ambassador Imad Moustapha who was on vacation.

It would be made “clear that we consider that the Syrian government has not lived up to its obligations under the Vienna Convention to protect diplomatic facilities. And it’s absolutely outrageous,” Nuland said.

“We have to make clear that they have not done the job that all governments are supposed to do in protecting the diplomatic facilities of all resident diplomats in their country,” she said.