A video has emerged that shows U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford being assaulted by a supporter of President Bashar al-Assad.
The video, broadcast by Syria television, shows pro-Assad protesters chanting slogans as they follow Ford outside the Cham Palace Hotel in Damascus. One protester then approaches Ford from the back and tries to wrap him in a poster that features Assad’s face. The ambassador’s security manages to rush him safely into the car. Watch the video:
Ammar Abdulhamid, a U.S.-based Syrian activist opposed to Assad, told Foreign Policy’s blog The Cable that the TV report accuses Ford of trying to lead a protest in Damascus, and takes out-of-context quotes from U.S. diplomats to support that claim.
Ford has repeatedly demonstrated his support for anti-government protesters and was scheduled to take an unapproved trip this week to the city of Jassem, a flashpoint for anti-government protests.
When Ford took an unapproved trip two months ago to Hama, another Syria town known for its anti-government sentiment, the government condemned his trip and even encouraged supporters to throw rocks and eggs at the U.S. Embassy.
A State Department official told The Cable that the video was “a weak, banal, laughable attempt by the Syrian thugs to have the international community focus on anything but the real story, which is the government's continuing campaign of terror on its own people through torture, murder and illegal imprisonment.”
President Obama and other international leaders have increased pressure on Assad to halt his harsh crackdown on protesters and step down from office. As Ramadan ended Tuesday, Syrian security forces killed at least seven protesters.
Read more on the assault at Checkpoint Washington.