The United States ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, and embassy staff are safe after being violently confronted by a pro-regime mob while Ford met with an opposition politician in Damascus, the State Department said Thursday.
"A crowd of demonstrators tried to assault Ambassador Ford and Embassy colleagues today as they went about doing the normal work of any embassy," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told journalists in an emailed statement Thursday. "In this instance, they went to a meeting with a well-known Syrian political figure."
A mob of about 100 supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad threw tomatoes and eggs at Ford as he met with the Syrian politician Hassan Abdul Azim at his office, the BBC reported. Azim said the protesters then "tried to get into his office as Mr. Ford arrived and then surrounded it."
"The mob was violent," Toner said. "It tried, unsuccessfully, to attack Embassy personnel while they were inside several embassy vehicles, seriously damaging the vehicles in the process."
Syrian security officers "finally assisted in securing a path from the Ambassador's meeting for him and his aides back to the Embassy," Toner said. Ford and embassy staff are now safely back at the embassy.