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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

U.S. suspends consular relations with Syria; orders all non-U.S. personnel out -- By Susan Crabtree, The Washington Examiner


Syrian government forces walk after being deployed in Yabroud town, Syria, Sunday, March 16, 2014. Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah fighters seized a key rebel supply town on the Lebanese border on Sunday, driving them from the area and scoring a major blow against them in the three-year-old-conflict. The fall of Yabroud immediately emboldened government forces to attack nearby rebel-held towns, pressing forward in what has been nearly a yearlong advance against rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad. (AP Photo)The Obama administration ordered Syria to suspend all diplomatic and consular operations in the U.S. and required that its non-U.S. personnel leave the country.

Daniel Rubinstein, President Obama's newly appointed special envoy for Syria, announced the decision in a statement Tuesday afternoon. It comes three years after the beginning of the bloody civil war that has killed more than 130,000 people.

“We have determined it is unacceptable for individuals appointed by that regime to conduct diplomatic or consular operations in the United States,” he said.

The United States notified the Syrian government Tuesday that it must immediately suspend operations of its embassy in Washington, DC., and as its honorary consulates in Troy, Mich., and Houston, Texas.

 “Syrian diplomats at the embassy and Syrian honorary consulates are no longer permitted to perform diplomatic or consular functions and those who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents must depart the United States,” Rubinstein said.

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