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US ambassador to Syria withdrawn after threats

The U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, has been withdrawn from his post in Damascus, the State Department confirmed Monday. Ford's safety was considered to be in danger after "credible threats" were made against him.

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US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford has left Damascus. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. has pulled its ambassador out of Syria over security concerns, reports the Associated Press.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Monday that Ambassador Robert Ford returned to Washington this weekend after "credible threats against his personal safety".

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Ford has not been formally recalled, Toner said, adding that the envoy would return if the security situation allowed it.

Toner referred to "Syrian regime-led incitement", suggesting that President Bashar Assad's government is suspected to be behind the threats.

Ford has been a prominent critic of the government's brutal response to protests, Reuters reports.

One unnamed diplomat told the news agency:

"Articles, more inciting against Ford than usual, have appeared in state media recently."

His residence and embassy have been attacked, and last month Ford was pelted with eggs and tomatoes as he visited a member of the Syrian opposition.

Syria's foreign ministry called the ambassador's recent visit to a huge protest in Hama a "provocation", and accused the U.S. of attempting to disrupt security and stability in Syria.

At least 3,000 people are said to have died in protests in Syria since March, according to the United Nations.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/111024/us-ambassador-syria-withdrawn-after-threats