The U.S. suspended operations of the Syrian embassy in Washington D.C., and its honorary consulates in Troy, Mich., and Houston, announcing that Syrian diplomats in the U.S. are no longer permitted to perform diplomatic or consular functions, the Department of State said in a statement Tuesday.
The decision follows Syria's move to suspend consular services for Syrians in the U.S., and a statement from the office of Daniel Rubinstein, special envoy for Syria, also asked diplomats without U.S. citizenship or permanent residency to leave the country.
“Following the announcement that the Syrian Embassy has suspended its provision of consular services, and in consideration of the atrocities the Assad regime has committed against the Syrian people, we have determined it is unacceptable for individuals appointed by that regime to conduct diplomatic or consular operations in the United States,” the statement said.
This week marks the completion of three years of the Syrian conflict, which began with demands from the country’s citizens for President Bashar Assad to step down. More than 140,000 people have been killed in the ensuing civilian conflict, during which western governments, including the U.S., have accused Assad’s government of "indiscriminately attacking civilians," Agence France-Presse, or AFP, reported, citing Secretary of State John Kerry.
"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,” Kerry reportedly said, according to AFP, adding that the decision was taken because "the illegitimacy of the Assad regime is so overwhelming."
The statement from Rubinstein's office added that despite differences between the two countries, the U.S. will continue to maintain “diplomatic relations with the state of Syria as an expression of our longstanding ties with the Syrian people.”