US prepares to close Embassy in Syria


By Karen DeYoung and Liz Sly, WP

The Obama administration is preparing to evacuate American personnel and close the U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria, by the end of this month unless the embattled government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad provides additional security for the facility, senior administration officials said.

Officials said they have not reached a final decision and are engaged in talks with the Assad government, but there so far have been no tangible results in providing more protection for the embassy.

“We have serious concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Damascus, including the recent spate of car bombs, and about the safety and security of embassy personnel,” a State Department release Friday evening said. “We have requested that the government of Syria take additional security measures to protect our embassy, and the Syrian government is considering that request. We have also advised the Syrian government that unless concrete steps are taken in the coming days we may have no choice but to close the mission.”

A drawdown of the staff at the embassy, which is located on a busy street in Damascus, began last week after three unexplained car bombings in recent weeks jarred the previously calm capital and left as many as 80 people dead.

Government claims that al-Qaeda was responsible for the recent attacks were widely scorned by activists who accused the government itself of responsibility. Although the administration has not ruled out Syrian government involvement in the attacks, U.S. officials said signs point to Syrian and Iraqi militants that have been affiliated with al-Qaeda.

“It smells like a terrorist attack and looks like a terrorist attack, but none of us knows for sure,” said a senior Obama administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in discussing the sensitive situation.

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CIA Used Awkar Embassy to Spy on Hezbollah

CIA agents meeting at fast-food restaurant

In a blow to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Hezbollah unveiled on Friday unveiled that the agency has been using the United States embassy in Awkar as a venue to spy on the Islamic Resistance.

During “Hadith Sa’aa” program on al-Manar TV, the party broadcast a report on the issue.

According to the report, the CIA had a team of 10 officers, including women, who were assigned to recruit Lebanese spies tasked with gathering information on Hezbollah’s arms depots, officials and Mujahedeen as well as the addresses of their residences.

“The CIA officers were active in recruiting agents from various segments of the Lebanese society: government employees, security and military personnel, religious, banking and academic figures,” the report said.
The report also talked about the chief of the CIA station in Lebanon, Daniel Patrick Mcfeely, who was born in 1966 and replaced the former chief, Louis Kahi who quit his job as the CIA chief in Lebanon in 2009.

The 10 officers, registered as diplomats at the U.S. Embassy, served as CIA agents for three years in Lebanon, the report said.

Robert Baer, one of the CIA officers

While recruitment of agents took place inside the embassy building, the report added that meetings with them were held in fast-food restaurants, MacDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Starbucks.

The report unveiled that during July war, the agency worked to monitor the resistance’s activity and provide the Israeli intelligence with all field information. The CIA had also linked the spies it was directing to the Israeli Mossad agency.

The report came after former and current U.S. officials told the Associated Press last month that Hezbollah has partially unraveled the CIA’s spy network in Lebanon, severely damaging the intelligence agency’s ability to gather vital information on the party.

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also boasted in June that the party had unmasked at least two CIA spies who had been trying to infiltrate the ranks of the organization.

MP Hasan Fadlallah

Also during the program on al-Manar TV, Hezbollah Member of Parliament, Hasan Fadlallah, praided the resounded results that the resistance had achieved during what he called the security war that the party was waging against the US  and the Israeli intelligence agencies.

“The priorities of the American and Israeli intelligence in Lebanon are to target and strike the resistance”, MP Fadlallah said adding that Sayyed Nasrallah was a permanent target”of these intelligence services.

The MP also called for implementing the law on punishing spies working for Israel and foreign countries, assuring that any information gathered by the CIA would be sent directly to the Israelis.

He said that any information gathered by the CIA agents would be sent to the Israelis. Fadlallah called for implementing the law on punishing spies working for Israel and foreign countries.

Source: Al Manar