The United States closed its embassy in Syria today, in response to continuing attacks by security forces in Homs that have escalated the death toll in the uprising.
U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford left Syria on Monday morning, according to CNN, and Syrian officials were told of the decision following the evacuation.
Security concerns for the embassy were already heightened due to two suicide car bombings in Damascus last month at the offices of Syrian security installations.
Nothing that the international community has done thus far has led to any pullback in efforts by Bashar al-Assad to use his security forces to crush the uprising. If anything, the army has stepped up the shelling of Homs, one of the spiritual hearts of the uprising. Reports claim that troops are firing heavy artillery almost at random into residential neighborhoods, and protesters claim that a field hospital in the Baba Amr district has been hit. Syrian TV has officially denied any assault on Homs.
This comes on the heels of a failed UN Security Council resolution on Syria, which Russia and China vetoed. The countries defended the action:
The Syrian opposition says Saturday’s veto by China and Russia of a UN draft resolution condemning the crackdown will encourage the government to act without restraint.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday called the veto a “travesty” [...]
However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the resolution, drafted by Arab and European countries, would have meant taking sides in a civil war.
Speaking in Bahrain on Monday, he said encouraging “armed extremist groups” would only cause more casualties, and said Moscow supported peaceful dialogue in Syria [...]
The Chinese government also defended its veto. It said the draft resolution would only have complicated matters, and said Beijing sought to “avoid the scourge of armed conflict”.
Characterizing the protest movement as “armed extremist groups” plays into Assad’s hands. I do not disagree, however, that military intervention carries the possibility of complicating the situation in Syria. It’s really a terrible situation.