US ambassador OK after encounter with angry mob of Assad backers

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to Syria is said to be unharmed, after encountering an angry crowd of supporters of President Bashar Assad today in Damascus.

According to an opposition activist and a U.S. official, the Assad supporters stoned the convoy of Ambassador Robert Ford, and then pelted him with eggs and tomatoes as he entered a building in Damascus to meet with the activist. They say the crowd then tried to break into the building while he was inside.

The U.S. envoy was trapped in the office for three hours by the angry mob outside. He was eventually escorted out by Syrian security forces, who showed up more than an hour after the attack began.

Ford was meeting with Hassan Abdul--Azim, who heads the outlawed Arab Socialist Democratic Union party. A State Department official says the meeting was part of Ford's regular business, and that he is now back safe at the embassy compound.

One university student standing outside the office with a bag of eggs and tomatoes said that if he ever sees Ford, he will throw whatever he's carrying at him. He said, "We don't want him anywhere in Syria."

The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on some Syrian officials because of the government crackdown on dissent. According to the United Nations, it has left some 2,700 people dead.

(Copyright 2011, The Associated Press)

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