Today's starter topic: Unrest in Syria has become so bad that the State Department has closed the American embassy in Damascus. Do you think there will be any U.S. intervention in Syria? Details below:
Robert Ford, the American ambassador, and 17 other U.S. officials left Syria and were expected to travel back to the United States. Ford informed Syrian authorities of the decision to leave earlier in the day, State Department officials said. Two diplomats left by air and the others went overland to Jordan.
Their departure comes two weeks after the State Department warned that it would close the embassy unless Assad's government better protected the mission, citing safety concerns about embassy personnel and a recent series of car bombs. And it coincides with a U.S. effort to build an international coalition in support of Syria's opposition.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement that Ford remains the U.S. ambassador "to Syria and its people," and said he would continue his work on Syria, maintaining contacts with the Syrian opposition and supporting "the peaceful political transition which the Syrian people have so bravely sought."
The State Department also warned Americans against any travel to Syria. It recommended all U.S. citizens remaining in the country to depart immediately. The Polish embassy will provide emergency consular services for Americans remaining in Syria, the State Department said.