After months of protests in Syria and a reported 1,700 killed anti-regime protesters, about 300 pro-regime activists infiltrated the U.S. embassy in Damascus, allegedly responding to a recent meeting between Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, and residents of a largely anti-regime town. President Bashar al-Assad blamed the embassy attacks on "a foreign conspiracy," prompting Hillary Clinton, who has previously expressed hope that Assad would be "a reformer," to take her rings off:
“By allowing or inciting this kind of behavior, Syrian leaders are trying to deflect attention from their crackdown and create some kind of conflict between Syrians and our diplomats. From our perspective, [Assad] has lost legitimacy. He has failed to deliver on the promises he’s made. [He] is not indispensable, and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power.”
Well then. Tell him how you really feel.
The BBC's Kim Ghattas noted that Clinton's statement was designed to "convince more Syrians to give up on Mr Assad, while not requiring any action by Washington" and avoiding "the Libya scenario."
The Syrian protesters wrote anti-American graffiti on the embassy, breaking windows and security cameras. The French embassy was also attacked. Elsewhere in Syrian, mass protests against the regime continued, with an estimated 300,000 people gathering in Hama. The city, which has been largely abandoned by the Assad regime, was the site of a massacre nearly 30 years ago in which up to 25,000 people were killed by government forces.
Syrians show resolve in what's called largest demonstration yet [Detroit Free Press / AP]