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July 12th, 2011
01:45 PM ET

Syria slams Clinton comments; 'national dialogue' ends

Damascus, Syria (CNN) - The embattled Syrian government lashed out at U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her criticism of Bashar al-Assad's regime Tuesday and hailed the political leadership's initiative to pursue reforms, one of which is the just-completed "national dialogue" meeting.

Quoting an official Syrian source, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency Tuesday upbraided Clinton, who criticized Syrian authorities Monday for not protecting the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus, which were attacked by demonstrators.

Clinton said President al-Assad "has lost legitimacy" and wants to deflect attention from the government's four-month, internationally-reviled crackdown on peaceful protesters. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that about 1,400 civilians and 350 security and military forces have died since the unrest began.

The Syrian source called the comments "additional evidence of the flagrant U.S. interference in Syrian domestic affairs." There has been criticism of U.S. officials since last week, when U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford visited the city of Hama and met protesters there.

The issue emerged at the United Nations on Tuesday.

Peter Wittig of Germany, the U.N. Security Council president, condemned the attacks on Tuesday and urged Syrian authorities to protect diplomatic property and personnel.

Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Ja'afari said the United States and France have exaggerated the facts about the attacks.

As for Clinton, she insisted that Syria meet its "international obligations immediately" to safeguard diplomats and property, hours after U.S. officials say that hundreds descended on its embassy for the third time in four days, scaling its walls and inflicting considerable damage.

FULL STORY

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