[Ed. – Sane-American reaction: “You mean we didn’t do this three years ago?”]
WASHINGTON—The U.S. on Tuesday ordered Syria to suspend its embassy operations in Washington and told Syrian diplomats working there and at other consulate locations to leave the country.
The decision reflected U.S. anger over “the atrocities the Assad regime has committed against the Syrian people,” as well as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s refusal to step aside, the new U.S. special envoy for Syria, Daniel Rubinstein, said in a news release.
This week marks the three-year anniversary of the uprising against Mr. Assad’s rule.
The U.S. stopped short, however, of severing diplomatic relations with the state of Syria, officials said. Administration lawyers have argued that withdrawing U.S. recognition of Mr. Assad’s government could relieve him of his responsibilities under international law for such things as the use of chemical weapons under his government’s control.
The Syrian embassy in Washington had already announced that it was suspending its provision of consular services. A message on the embassy’s website said the embassy wouldn’t be able to process consular services starting Tuesday.
Citing the embassy’s suspension of its consular services, Mr. Rubinstein said the State Department had determined that it was now “unacceptable for individuals appointed by that regime to conduct diplomatic or consular operations in the United States.”
“Consequently, the United States notified the Syrian government today that it must immediately suspend operations of its Embassy in Washington, D.C. and its honorary consulates in Troy, Michigan, and Houston, Texas,” he said.
Under the decision, Syrian diplomats at the embassy and at the honorary consulates will no longer be permitted to perform diplomatic or consular functions, the State Department said.