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The London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group, reported that more than 70 people were killed on Monday .  53  were killed  in the besieged city of Homs.

In a  clear sign of further deterioration  of  the security situation in Syria  the United States closed its embassy in Syria and pulled out all remaining staff on Monday citing serious security concerns as protests escalated  against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“The United States has suspended operations of our embassy in Damascus as of February 6. Ambassador  Robert  Ford and all American personnel have now departed the country,” a State Department statement said.

“The recent surge in violence, including bombings in Damascus on December 23 and January 6, has raised serious concerns that our embassy is not sufficiently protected from armed attack,” it said, referring to attacks linked to Al-Qaeda.

“We, along with several other diplomatic missions, conveyed our security concerns to the Syrian government but the regime failed to respond adequately.”

Photo: In this June 20, 2011 photo, U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford covers his nose during his visit with other foreign diplomats to a mass grave, in Jisr el-Shughour, north of Syria. “The United States has suspended operations of our embassy in Damascus as of February 6. Ambassador Robert Ford and all American personnel have now departed the country,” a State Department statement said on Monday

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