The President Barack Obama Administration closed the U.S. embassy in Damascus on February 6, as American diplomats were pulled out in the face of the increasing violence in Syria, The Associated Press reported.
According to the news outlet, Robert Ford, the American ambassador, and 17 other U.S. officials left Syria and were expected to travel back home. This came as the international community stepped up pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power.
The departure of the American diplomats comes two weeks after the State Department warned that it would close the embassy unless Assad's government offered more protection for the mission. U.S. officials cited safety concerns about embassy personnel and a recent series of car bombs, the AP reported.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement that Ford remains the U.S. ambassador to Syria, and noted he would continue his work with the country, maintaining correspondence with the Syrian opposition and supporting "the peaceful political transition which the Syrian people have so bravely sought."
CNN reported that a senior State Department official noted that the Syrian government is being stretched beyond its ability to control the situation, and the myriad of violent elements in the country.