Middle East

Damascus slams US on illegal closure of Syrian embassy

syrian ambassySyria’s Foreign Ministry has said that a US decision to close its Washington embassy and two consulates is illegal and arbitrary.

A Wednesday statement described the decision as “an arbitrary measure,” saying it was “a clear violation of the Vienna Convention” that governs diplomatic relations between nations.

It came a day after the United States announced it was closing Syria’s Washington embassy and consulates in Michigan and Texas and expelling remaining diplomatic staff who were not US citizens.

“So we just felt the idea that this embassy is sitting here with representation that we could take seriously is an insult, and we closed it. It’s that simple,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry said the decision was intended to undermine the country’s ability to provide its citizens abroad with services.

The decision “reveals the real objectives of US policy against the interests of Syrian citizens and is another step in the US support for terrorism and bloodshed in Syria,” the statement added.

The Syrian embassy in the US capital had been operating for some time without an ambassador, who left the US in December 2011, leaving only a few low level staff who had been providing limited consular services.

The measures will not affect Syria’s mission to the United Nations, though Washington last month announced it would limit the movements of Syria’s UN ambassador to a 25-mile radius around New York City.

Moscow called the move “worrying and disappointing”. Worsening relations between the United States and Russia over Ukraine have clouded efforts by the two countries to broker a peace deal in Syria, which is in its fourth year of conflict.

The Russian Foreign Ministry suggested Washington’s actions were aimed at “regime change” to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whom Russia has protected with diplomatic support at the UN Security Council.

“The aim of regime change in Damascus prevails over the task of disarming Syria of its chemical weapons and helping millions of Syrians who have suffered from the armed conflict,” the ministry said on its website.

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