US Protests Assad by Closing Embassy in Damascus

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The United States closed its embassy in Syria Monday to protest the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Assad's army continues to fire on civilians and the country may be slipping into a civil war.

The U.S. embassy closing in Damascus came as the sounds of shelling and gunfire filled the air around the city of Homs.

More than 5,400 people have died after 11 months of street protests against the regime. Human rights groups say 200 died Saturday in Homs.

Less than a year ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Assad as "some kind of reformer." But while visiting Bulgaria this week, she had a very different message.

CBN News spoke with Regent University Executive Vice president Paul Bonicelli about Syria.  He's a former U.S. Agency for International Development official. Click play to watch.

"We have to increase diplomatic pressure on the Assad regime and work to convince those people around President Assad that he must go and that there has to be a recognition of that," she said.

"And a new start, to try to form a government that will represent all of the people of Syria," Clinton added.

Both the U.S. and France pushed hard for a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for Assad to step down. However, Russia and China vetoed the move Saturday.

"Faced with a neutered Security Council, we have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations with those allies and partners who support the Syrian people's right to have a better future," Clinton said in response.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Russia and China made a deadly mistake.

"I think the violence will only grow. This is a doomed regime as well as a murdering regime. There is no way it can get its credibility back internationally or with its own people," Hague said.

President Obama and other European leaders have ruled out military intervention in Syria, which means that the violence is likely to continue for weeks, if not months.

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