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US pulls envoy out of Syria over security concerns
US withdraws ambassador to Syria over credible threats to his safety, assails regime
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ' The U.S. has withdrawn its ambassador to Syria over security concerns, blaming President Bashar Assad's government for the threats.

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

Toner couldn't say when Ford might return, saying it depended on a U.S. "assessment of Syrian regime-led incitement and the security situation on the ground."

Ford has enraged Syrian authorities with his forceful defense of peaceful protests, and harsh critique of a government crackdown that has now killed nearly 3,000 people. Ford particularly angered Assad's regime in July when he greeted demonstrators in the restive city of Hama.

Ford has been the subject of several incidents of intimidation by pro-government thugs.

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