REPORTING FROM WASHINGTON -- After months of worry about the security of the U.S. Embassy in Syria, U.S. officials are acknowledging that they may have to close the Damascus mission and bring home U.S. personnel.
In a statement Friday, the State Department said that amid the unrest in Syria it has asked the Syrian government again to increase security at the compound. It cited “the deteriorating security situation in Damascus,” including a recent spate of car bombs.
“We have also advised the Syrian government that unless concrete steps are taken in the coming days, we may have no choice but to close the mission,” it said.
U.S. officials have been prodding Syria for months to step up protection for the embassy, as they are required to do under international agreements.
In July, the embassy was attacked and damaged, with parts of its exterior covered with graffiti, by pro-government demonstrators.
U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford, who has repeatedly denounced Syria's violent crackdown on demonstrators, was withdrawn from Damascus last October because of worries about his safety. He returned last month.
Photo: Anti-government protesters gather Jan. 20, 2012, during a demonstration at a square
in the mountain resort town of Zabadani, Syria, near the Lebanese border. Credit: Associated Press