U.S. Embassy in Syria Attacked

The U.S. Embassy in Damascus came under attack this morning.

Islamic militants attempted to storm the U.S. Embassy in Damascus on Tuesday using automatic rifles, hand grenades and at least one van rigged with explosives, the government said. Four people were killed in the brazen attack, including three of the assailants.

No Americans were hurt, and the attackers apparently did not breach the high walls surrounding the embassy’s white compound in the city’s diplomatic neighborhood. But one of Syria’s anti-terrorism forces was killed and at least 11 others were injured, the country’s official news agency reported. The wounded including a police officer, two Iraqis and seven people employed at nearby technical workshop. A Chinese diplomat also was hit in the face by shrapnel and slightly injured while standing on top of a garage at the Chinese Embassy, China’s government news agency said. A witness said one Syrian guard outside the embassy also was killed, but the government did not immediately confirm that. At the embassy in Damascus, as at most American embassies worldwide, a local guard force patrols outside the compound’s walls while U.S. Marine guards are mostly responsible for guarding classified documents and fighting off attackers inside the compound.

Witnesses also said the gunmen tried to throw hand grenades into the embassy compound, shouting “Allah Akbar!” or “God is great!” It was not clear if any of the grenades made it over the walls, which are about 8 feet high.

The attack came at a time of high tension between the United States and Syria over the recent Israeli-Hezbollah war in neighboring Lebanon. In Damascus the sentiment has become increasingly anti-American sentiment.

Those of us old enough to remember the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979-81 will doubtless see eerie similarities. Thankfully, security at embassies is much better these days.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Terrorism, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.