The United States has suspended its embassy’s operations in Syria in the face of escalating violence and concerns that the embassy in Damascus was insufficiently protected.
The move to withdraw U.S. diplomatic personnel followed one of the most violent weekends in the eleven-month conflict between anti-government protesters and the Syrian regime. Observers say that over 200 people were killed as government forces attacked the city of Homs.
That attack coincided with a failed push in the U.N. Security Council for a resolution condemning the violence in Syria, demanding the Syrian government immediately put an end to all human rights violations, and calling for support of an Arab League plan to facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, pluralistic political system, among other measures. In a 13-2 vote, the resolution was vetoed by Russia and China.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the failure to adopt the Security Council resolution “a travesty.” She said, “Those countries that refuse to support the Arab League plan bear full responsibility for protecting the brutal regime in Damascus. ... Faced with a neutered Security Council, we have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations with those allies and partners who support the Syrian people’s right to have a better future. We have to increase pressure on the Assad regime and work to convince those people around President [Bashar] Assad that he must go.”
Secretary of State Clinton said the United States will seek new regional and national sanctions against Syria and strengthen existing measures. The sanctions, she said, “will be implemented to the fullest to dry up the sources of funding and the arms shipments that are keeping the regime’s war machine going. We will work to expose those who are still funding the regime and sending them weapons that are used against defenseless Syrians, including women and children. And we will work with the friends of a democratic Syria around the world to support the opposition’s peaceful political plans for change.”
In an interview with NBC television, President Barack Obama said, "The Assad regime is feeling the noose tightening around them. And we're going to just continue to put more and more pressure until hopefully we see a transition. This is not going to be a matter of if; it's going to be a matter of when."