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The United States has pulled its ambassador out of Syria amidst concerns for his safety.
Robert Ford had angered Syrian authorities when he showed solidarity with activists involved in an uprising against embroiled President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.
A U.S. spokesman for Ford said he had left Damascus following several “credible threats against his personal safety.”
Syria has recalled its ambassador to the U.S. in response to Ford’s departure, and an embassy spokeswoman confirmed that Ambassador Imad Moustapha left Washington on Monday.
Ford has experienced threats in the past, having been pelted with eggs and tomatoes last month while visiting an opposition figure, and then briefly trapped in his office by pro-Assad demonstrators.
An official at the U.S. embassy in Damascus said that Ford has yet to be formally recalled.
Mark Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. state department, said Ford’s return to Syria would be based on an “assessment of Syria regime-led incitement and the security situation on the ground.”
“We hope that the Syrian regime will end its incitement campaign against Ambassador Ford,” he added.
Ambassador Ford, an Arabic-speaker who has served the U.S. in several Middle Eastern nations, has denounced Syria’s crackdowns on dissidents in addition to expressing his solidarity with the protestors.
He has warned of “the risk of sectarian conflict developing in Syria if the authorities intensify their suppression of protests.”
Ford was one of a group of primarily Western diplomats who expressed their condolences to the family of a human rights activist allegedly killed under torture last month.
Read more at BBC.