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US orders partial evacuation of embassy in Syria

26 april 2011, 17:44
The United States late Monday ordered embassy family members and some non-emergency personnel to leave Syria, citing the "uncertainty and volatility" of a crackdown on protesters there, AFP reports.

The State Department's ordered departure, along with a travel warning telling US citizens to leave the country, followed another day of violent attacks on protesters by Syrian security forces.

"The Department of State has ordered all eligible family members of US government employees as well as certain non-emergency personnel to depart Syria," the statement said.

"Embassy operations will continue to the extent possible under the constraints of an evolving security situation," it added.

"US citizens in Syria are advised to depart while commercial transportation is readily available," it added.

Any US citizens who remain in Syria should limit nonessential travel "given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation," the statement said.

Some 390 people have been killed in security crackdowns since the protests erupted, rights activists and witnesses say.

On Monday, Syrian troops backed by tanks moved into the flashpoint town of Daraa, killing at least 25 people, witnesses said, as Damascus was accused of resorting to military force to crush dissent.

Washington has been analyzing which steps to take against Syria in response to the violence. It is considering targeted sanctions but has declined to call for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

Washington earlier Monday also defended the presence of an American ambassador in Damascus. The ambassador, who arrived in January, was the first to fill the post in six years.

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