Britain Closes Its Embassy In Syria

By Salon Staff

Published March 1, 2012 10:18AM (EST)

BEIRUT (AP) — Britain's foreign secretary says the U.K. is closing its embassy in Syria and withdrawing all diplomatic staff amid a worsening security situation in the country.

William Hague said Thursday that he judged "that the deterioration of the security situation in Damascus puts our embassy staff and premises at risk."

Britain had previously reduced the number of staff at the premises, meaning less than 10 people were working there before Hague's announcement.

Hague insists the move would not reduce "the U.K.'s commitment to active diplomacy to maintain pressure on the Assad regime to end the violence."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's main opposition group said Thursday it has formed a "military bureau" to organize and unify the armed resistance to the regime of President Bashar Assad.

The Syrian National Council has called for weapons for rebels in the past, but the announcement was the first time the country's main opposition group said it was seeking to organize the fighters.

The SNC made the announcement in a statement. The group also was holding a news conference in Paris.

The group says the government's crackdown on the country's uprising has forced Syrians "to bear arms in self-defense."

At the start of the Syrian revolt nearly a year ago, many protesters said they wanted to remain peaceful. But as the assault continued, an armed insurgency comprised largely of defectors from the military has developed to fight the regime.

Salon Staff

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