Armed Mobs Storm Foreign Embassies in Syria
Violent armed mobs stormed foreign embassies in Damascus and Latakia on Saturday after the Arab League suspended Syria.
Hundreds of pro-goverment loyalists brandished sticks, stones and knives, shouting slogans in support of President Bashar al-Assad and bellowing, “We sacrifice our blood and our soul for you, Bashar,” reported Reuters.
The rioters hurled rocks at the building, beat a guard and broke into the embassy of Saudi Arabia, located three blocks away from Assad's office.
Syrian security forces “did not take measures to stop them ransacking the embassy,” according to a statement issued by the Saudi Foreign Ministry through the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia strongly condemns this incident and holds Syrian authorities responsible for the security and protection of Saudi interests and citizens in Syria,” the statement continued.
At least one Arab media report said that the embassy of Qatar in Damascus was also attacked.
Similar violence was perpetrated against the French and Turkish consulates in Latakia, 330 kilometers (210 miles) north of Damascus on the Mediterranean coast, residents reported.
A senior diplomat in Damascus who declined to be identified confirmed the attacks. “They did a fair bit of damage to the Saudi embassy,” he told Reuters. “We do not have the full picture from Latakia, but the attacks there appear to have been really bad.”
The government of the United Arab Emirates allegedly also warned its citizens to leave Syria as soon as possible “even if they have to go via Lebanon or Jordan or Turkey,” according to a tweet late Saturday night on the Twitter social networking site.
The loyalist rage came in the wake of the decision of the 22-member Arab League Saturday to censure Syria and suspend its membership after it became clear the Damascus government had no intention of fulfilling its agreement to end the violent government crackdowns against civilian protesters across the country.
Only Yemen and Lebanon voted with Syria against the move, with Iraq abstaining in an extremely rare show of Arab solidarity in condemning a fellow nation. Just twice before in the history of the Arab League has such an action been taken: when Libya was suspended this past March due to dictator Muammar Qaddafi's violence against civilians there, and Egypt's 10-year exile from the group after signing its landmark peace treaty with Israel in 1979.
The Arab League decision included a sweeping package of measures designed to significantly raise the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to either comply with the agreement he made, or to step down from office.
Among those were a set of economic sanctions, recommendations for those Arab countries who have not yet done so to recall their ambassadors from Syria and a decision to seek the help of the United Nations in ending the violence.
The body also has summoned Syrian opposition leaders to a meeting within the next three days to form “a unified view of the coming transitional period” – making it clear the Arab League is preparing the way for a post-Assad government.
The United Nations has estimated that at least 3500 civilians have died in the eight-month-old uprising against the Syrian government ignited by the region-wide “Arab Spring” earlier this year. Human rights and activists organizations have placed the death tolls far higher, at figures over 4,200.