As of Monday, February 06, 2012, the United States suspended operations of the US Embassy Damascus, Syria. US Ambassador Ford and all American personnel have now left the country.
The official announcement noted that the reasoning behind the suspension of US Embassy Damascus operations and withdrawal of personnel from Syria include the recent surge in violence, including bombings in Damascus on December 23, 2011, and January 06, 2012, which raised serious concerns that the US Embassy Damascus is not adequately protected from armed attack. The US and several other diplomatic missions conveyed their security concerns to the Syrian Government, but the regime failed to respond adequately.
US Ambassador Ford has left Damascus, but he remains the United States Ambassador to Syria and its people. As President Obama’s representative, he will continue his work and engagement with the Syrian people as head of the Syria team in Washington. Together with other senior US officials, Ambassador Ford will maintain contacts with the Syrian opposition and continue efforts to support the peaceful political transition that the Syrian people have so bravely sought.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the UN Security Council on January 31, 2012, the US is gravely concerned by the escalation of violence in Syria caused by the regime’s blatant defiance of its commitments to the action plan it agreed to with the Arab League. The deteriorating security situation that led to the suspension of US diplomatic operations makes clear once more the dangerous path Assad has chosen and the regime’s inability to fully control Syria. It also underscores the urgent need for the international community to act without delay to support the Arab League’s transition plan before the regime’s escalating violence puts a political solution out of reach and further jeopardizes regional peace and security.
Other Western embassies have also reduced their staffs in Syria for weeks, and on Monday Britain also recalled its ambassador for consultations.
An announcement on the US Embassy Damascus web site states:
“Effective February 6, 2012, the US Embassy has suspended operations and is not open for normal consular services. Neither US passports nor visas to the United States will be issued in Damascus. The Polish Embassy in Damascus has agreed to assist US citizens remaining in Syria by providing limited consular services. For emergency assistance, US citizens should contact the US Interests Section.