VIDEO: U.S shutters embassy in Syria as diplomatic efforts crumble

The Takeaway

The U.S. Embassy in Syria will shutdown as diplomatic efforts to end the violence there seemed to have failed over the weekend.

Meanwhile, in various parts of the country, all indications are that the Syrian military has resumed its brutal, deadly crackdown on dissidents and their supporters.  A BBC correspondent in Homs described “near constant blasts” as Syrian artillery fired on residential and commercial areas of the city that has been the epicenter of the present uprising. Various media reports indicate more than a dozen have died, though those reports have been nearly impossible to confirm.

As for the embassy, the United States shuttered it and recalled all of its diplomatic personnel. The staffing for mission had already been reduced over the 11-month course of the violence, but as of Monday, all U.S. personnel had left the country, the State Department said in a statement.

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

The western and Arab effort to bring about some sort of coordinated international effort to end the violence has so far been stymied in both the Arab League and at the United Nations — a fact alluded to in the State Department statement.

“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,” the State Department said.

Over the weekend, both China and Russia exercised vetoes over a draft security council resolution that would have condemned the violence in Syria and called for some sort of peaceful transition of power. According to The New York Times, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said she was disgusted by Russia and China’s votes — a comment that provoked an angry reaction in Moscow.

“There are some in the West who have given evaluations of the vote on Syria in the United Nations Security Council that sound, I would say, indecent and perhaps on the verge of hysterical,” Russian foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov said, according to the Interfax news agency, the Times wrote. “Those who get angry are rarely right.”

Lavrov also said there shouldn’t have been a vote until he had a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, scheduled for Tuesday.

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