Syria Brushes Aside U.S. Criticism of Assad

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Syrian Vice President Farouk Shara downplayed criticism by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton following attacks on the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus on Monday.

The attacks took place after the U.S. and French ambassadors visited the besieged town of Hama -- the seat of anti-government protests.

There were no injuries at the U.S. embassy though the building and the ambassador's residence sustained some damage. Three French officials were injured in the attack.

"No one has the right to interfere in the Syrian affairs," Shara told Algeria's al-Khbar newspaper, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported. "The Syrians alone are the ones to make decisions for themselves along with President Bashar Assad whom they have elected," Shara said.

Following the embassy attacks, Obama said Assad has "lost legitimacy" and Clinton remarked that he's "not indispensible."

"From our perspective, he has lost legitimacy. He has failed to deliver on the promises he has made," Clinton said on Monday.

"If anyone, including President Assad, thinks that the United States is secretly hoping the regime will emerge from this turmoil to continue its brutality and repression, they are wrong," Clinton added.

"President Assad is not indispensible and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power. Our goal is to see that the will of the Syrian people for a democratic transformation occurs," she said.

The U.N. Security Council also condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms," The Associated Press reported. AP also quoted French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, who said "each passing day makes it more and more difficult" for Assad to stay in power."

He has "gone beyond all boundaries," Fillon said.

According to human rights groups, Assad's troops have killed more than 1,400 anti-government protesters since the uprising began in March.


Politico contributed to this report.

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