Weeks after Syria clamped restrictions on the movement of American diplomats there, the State Department has returned the favor, requiring Syrian officials to obtain permission before traveling outside Washington, U.S. officials confirmed Wednesday.
The retaliatory restrictions went to effect last month after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad imposed limits on the travel of Robert S. Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Damascus who traveled to the restive town of Hama to meet with protesters there. Syrian officials complained that Ford had not given the government advance notice of his plans, and accused of him of openly supporting the anti-Assad uprising. Ford was subsequently ordered to remain within a 25-mile radius of the Syrian capital unless he obtained advance permission to travel.
The State Department then decided to apply similar restrictions to Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha and his staff, requiring seven days’ notice before travel outside the Washington area, department officials said.
“It is our usual practice to match restrictions — requirements to report, put on our folk — with similar restrictions here,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.