Paris summons Syrian ambassador over attacks

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France on Sunday condemned protesters' attacks on diplomatic missions in Syria and has summoned the Syrian ambassador, the foreign ministry said.

"These attacks are an attempt to intimidate the international community after the Arab League's courageous decision because of ongoing repression in Syria," a ministry statement said after the pan-Arab body suspended Syria.

"France condemns with the greatest firmness the unacceptable attacks on its diplomatic and consular interests in Syria," it said.

A diplomat in Paris who asked not to be named said: "People came in front of our missions and tried to get in but didn't succeed. There was some material damage, windows broken, plaques damaged, flags taken."

France has taken the lead at the UN Security Council in recent months to try to obtain strong condemnation of the oppression in Syria.

The foreign ministry said it "particularly condemns the destruction of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Damascus and expresses its solidarity with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia as it does with all targeted countries."

Angry demonstrators on Saturday sacked the Saudi embassy in Damascus after the Arab League suspended Syria over the regime's failure to honour a deal to end a bloody crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

Demonstrators also protested outside the embassy of Qatar, which currently holds the Arab League's rotating presidency, and attacked other diplomatic missions in Damascus and in the northern cities of Latakia and Aleppo, notably Turkey's.

"Attempted attacks on France's honorary consulate in Latakia and the detached chancery in Aleppo by organised groups of demonstrators to which security forces did not react are unacceptable," the foreign ministry said.

"Syria's ambassador to France (Lamia Shakkour) is summoned to the foreign ministry for a reminder of Syria's international obligations.

"The Syrian regime is held entirely responsible for these excesses and will have to give an explanation."

Arab Leagues foreign ministers voted Saturday to suspend Syria over its failure to comply with an agreement to end the crackdown, which the United Nations says has cost more than 3,500 lives.

© 2011 AFP

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