U.S. revises travel warning for Syria


The U.S. State Department said anti-foreigner sentiment in Syria is on the rise and warned of a possible reduction in consular services in the country.

A delegation from the Arab League was to begin an observer mission this week in Syria. The opposition Syrian National Council claimed the head of the mission, Sudanese Gen. Muhammad Ahmad al-Dabi, is wanted on suspicion of committing crimes against humanity in Darfur, an allegation the International Criminal Court denies.

The U.N. Security Council is said to be reviewing a draft resolution offered by the Russian delegation. The United Nations estimates at least 5,000 people have been killed since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad began in March.

Russia had expressed concern that Security Council action could lead to a situation like the NATO-led operation in Libya and exacerbate the fighting.

With army defections on the rise, however, the United Nations warned that the prospects for civil war in Syria are growing.

The State Department updated its travel warning for Syria “to reflect reduced staffing at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus and a possible reduction in consular services.”

Syrian efforts to attribute the current civil unrest to external influences have led to an increase in anti-foreigner sentiment,” the warning read.

Damascus maintains the violence is the work of domestic terrorists and foreign interventionists.

Washington recently sent Robert Ford, its ambassador to Syria, back to Damascus. He had complained of harassment during earlier efforts to witness the unrest first hand.