President Bashar Assad's loyalists broke into the U.S. Embassy compound Monday in the Syrian capital Damascus, Reuters reports.AP adds:
A witness in Syria's capital says security guards at the French Embassy have fired into the air to drive back protesters taking part in two-pronged demonstrations outside the French and American embassies in Damascus.
The protests Monday come days after the U.S. and French ambassadors visited the opposition stronghold of Hama in central Syria. The witness says crowds were not allowed to get near the U.S. Embassy.
The witness, Hiam al-Hassan, says about 300 people had gathered outside the French Embassy. Hundreds others were at the American diplomatic compound.
The protests coincide with government-organized talks in Damascus on possible political reforms after four months of unrest against the regime of President Assad.
The witnesses said the protesters smashed windows and raised a Syrian flag on the [US} compound on Monday. They also wrote anti-U.S. graffiti referring to the U.S. ambassador as a "dog," the witnesses said.A spontaneous outpouring of democratic feeling, no doubt.
UPDATE: I just saw this laughable interview with Haldun el Kassam, a Ba'ath Party deputy and Assad loyalist in Turkey, where he discusses the Syrian regime's viewpoint on the protests:
According to Kassam, armed terrorists came to Syria under the guidance of the US and devastated towns and villages. A total of 370 Syrian soldiers died and 1,700 people were injured. To express support for Bashar al-Assad, 11.8 million people -- 2.7 million in Damascus, 1.8 million in Aleppo, 1.2 in Latakia and 1 million in Haseke -- rallied in Syria. The Ba'ath Party in Syria has 3.5 million members. The alliance of opposition parties in parliament has 600,000 members. It follows that President Assad has electoral support behind him. If the opposition seeks to get rid of the ruling party, it must do this through democratic methods. In Syria, only religious or sectarian parties are forbidden. Assad does not discriminate between Alawis and Sunnis, or practitioners of any other religion or faith. His wife is Sunni and his children are attending a Christian school.Well, there you go.