Syrian crowd stones U.S. envoy's convoy
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
AMMAN (Reuters) - Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hurled rocks and tomatoes at U.S. ambassador Robert Ford's convoy as he visited an opposition figure in Damascus on Thursday in an attack the U.S. said was "wholly unjustified."
Ford and his party were not injured, the U.S. State Department said, but several embassy vehicles were damaged and the ambassador had to lock himself in an office to await help from Syrian security.
Syria, which has been irked by Ford's meetings with opposition figures, accused Washington of inciting violence and meddling in its affairs. Washington demanded that Syria take steps to protect U.S. diplomats.
"We condemn this unwarranted attack in the strongest possible terms. Ambassador (Robert) Ford and his aides were conducting normal embassy business and this attempt to intimidate our diplomats through violence is wholly unjustified," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
"We immediately raised this incident with the Syrian government and we are demanding that they take every possible step to protect our diplomats according to their obligations under international law."
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Ford had been in touch with senior department officials. "He is calm. He is resolute. And he is determined to continue to carry out his duties," he said.
Assad's crackdown on six months of pro-democracy protests has envenomed relations with the United States, which has imposed fresh sanctions and rallied world pressure on Syria.
President Barack Obama took office in 2009 pledging to engage in dialogue with Damascus and named Ford as ambassador. Continued...