Syria angered by U.S. ambassador's visit to rebellious Hama
18:22 08/07/2011 DAMASCUS, July 8 (RIA Novosti) - Syria has condemned a visit by the U.S. ambassador to the restive city of Hama as incitement and proof that Washington is orchestrating the nationwide protests that have challenged President Bashar Assad's grip on power.
U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford on Thursday arrived in the city of Hama where skirmishes between the army and anti-regime protesters have been continuing for five days. He toured the city on Friday morning amid the intensification of mass demonstrations under the banner "No to Dialogue" with Assad.
Officials in Damascus claimed Ford's visit was a provocation, which added weight to its claims that the United States was working to undermine Syria's incumbent regime.
"The presence of the U.S. ambassador in Hama without previous permission is obvious proof of the United States' involvement in the current events in Syria and its attempt to incite an escalation in the situation, which disrupts Syria's security and stability," the Syrian Foreign Ministry said.
The U.S. State Department said Ford's visit was designed to show solidarity with those protesting for change.
On Friday afternoon, several world media reported that Ford had already left Hama so as not to be a distraction during the weekly demonstrations.
Hama has seen some of the biggest demonstrations against President Assad and was also the site of a brutal crackdown by his father nearly 30 years ago, painful memories of which were revived by Assad's deployment of tanks outside the city this week.
Rights groups report that more than 1,400 people have been killed during the recent violence. The Syrian government claims that more than 300 of its security forces have also been killed.
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