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US diplomat to return to Syria following withdrawal over security fears

Ambassador Robert Ford is to head back to Syria. He was withdrawn in October after being criticised by Syria over

An anti-Ford protester in Damascus in July 2011.
An anti-Ford protester in Damascus in July 2011.
Image: AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman/PA Images

THE US AMBASSADOR who was recalled from Damascus to Washington for consultations over a month ago is to return to Syria, the US State Department says today.

In a statement, the department said that Ford would continue his work in Syria including:

[D]elivering the United States’ message to the people of Syria; providing reliable reporting on the situation on the ground; and engaging with the full spectrum of Syrian society on how to end the bloodshed and achieve a peaceful political transition.

Ford was pulled from Damascus in late October over security concerns and for consultations with his government.

Ford had been criticised by Syria and pelted with eggs and tomatoes by a crowd of around 100 Syrians in protest over his criticism of President Bashar Assad’s regime and its crackdown on political protest.

Prior to leaving Syria, the ambassador’s movements were being restricted by Syrian authorities.

“We believe his presence in the country is among the most effective ways to send the message that the United States stands with the people of Syria,” the State Department said today.

The United Nations says that over 4,000 people have been killed since the pro-reform uprising began in mid-March.

The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights recently called for international support for Syrian citizens “in light of the manifest failure of the Syrian authorities to protect their citizens”.

Syria accepts Arab League’s observer mission request >

UN rights chief calls for international support for Syrian civilians >

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