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NATO strikes in Syria unlikely: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State

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The U.S. ambassador to Syria has left Damascus for security concerns, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman said.

Syrian protesters have been increasingly calling for international protection to stop civilian killings, but Feltman, who is also the U.S. envoy in Libya, said intervention similar to the NATO strikes on Libya was unlikely.

“What we need to do is to talk to our partners and friends about finding ways that are appropriate to Syria, to help protect the Syrian civilians against the violence that is inflicted upon them,” Feltman said after talks with Moroccan Foreign Affairs Minister Taieb Fassi Firi in Rabat.

“We are sorry that our ambassador was forced to leave Damascus for security concerns, but we hope he will be back as soon as possible,” Feltman told Al Arabiya. He said that it is the responsibility of the Syrian government to protect the diplomatic missions, according to the international law.

Earlier on Monday a U.S. embassy official in Damascus said that ambassador Robert Ford, an open critic of President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on political dissent, has left Syria indefinitely for security reasons.

“Ambassador Robert Ford was brought back to Washington as a result of credible threats against his personal safety in Syria,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

“At this point, we can't say when he will return to Syria. It will depend on our assessment of Syrian regime-led incitement and the security situation on the ground.”

Asked if the United States had any plans to expel the Syrian ambassador to Washington, Imad Moustapha, a U.S. official said: “Not at this time.”

(Translated from Arabic by Abeer Tayel)