- Associated Press - Monday, February 6, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has closed the U.S. Embassy in Damascus and pulled all American diplomats out of Syria.

Officials said Ambassador Robert Ford and other diplomats left Syria on Monday. It’s the most dramatic U.S. move so far after 11 months of a violent crackdown on dissent by President Bashar Assad’s regime.

The State Department warned last month it would close the embassy unless Mr. Assad’s government stepped up its protection. The U.S. cited concerns about the safety of personnel and recent car bombs.

The United Nations says Mr. Assad’s crackdown has killed more than 5,400 people since March. The revolt began with mostly peaceful protests, but armed rebels now are increasingly fighting the regime.

The Obama administration long has demanded that Mr. Assad step down. Officials insist his regime’s demise is inevitable.

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