The witnesses said the protesters smashed windows and raised a Syrian flag on the compound on Monday. They also wrote anti-US graffiti referring to the U.S. ambassador as a "dog," the witnesses said.
The protests were over visits by the U.S. and French ambassadors last week to the opposition stronghold of Hama in central Syria.
The Associated Press and Reuters are reporting that French guards have fired rounds to stop the assault rioters supportive of the Assad regime. What apparently started as a demonstration against the recent visit of US Ambassador Robert Ford's to the besieged city of Hama has become turned into a violent exchange and created a highly combustible situation in Damascus, the Syrian capital.
The State Department could not immediately confirm the incident
Facebook seems to be ahead of the official government response system, though, as the Ambassador has posted a note discussing the activity of the mob outside the Embassy, and his analysis of the protests and violent repressions across the country:
A Note from Ambassador Robert Ford
"Outside the Embassy demonstrators complained about U.S. policy towards the Syrian government and my trip to Hama.
As I have said before, we respect the right of all Syrians – and people in all countries - to express their opinions freely and in a climate of mutual respect. We wish the Syrian government would do the same – and stop beating and shooting peaceful demonstrators. I have not seen the police assault a “mnhebak” demonstration yet. I am glad – I want all Syrians to enjoy the right to demonstrate peacefully. On July 9 a “mnhebak” group threw rocks at our embassy, causing some damage. They resorted to violence, unlike the people in Hama, who have stayed peaceful. Go look at the Ba’ath or police headquarters in Hama – no damage that I saw.
Other protesters threw eggs and tomatoes at our embassy. If they cared about their fellow Syrians the protesters would stop throwing this food at us and donate it to those Syrians who don’t have enough to eat. And how ironic that the Syrian Government lets an anti-U.S. demonstration proceed freely while their security thugs beat down olive branch-carrying peaceful protesters elsewhere."
The Ambassador continues on, in a frank, direct way that is both critical of the regime's response to the unrest, and supportive of peaceful opposition efforts elsewhere in Syria.
UPDATE: The Associated Press has updated this story:
"The Obama administration will formally protest Monday's attack on the American embassy in Syria and may seek compensation for damage caused when a mob breached the wall of the compound before being dispersed by U.S. Marine guard.
A U.S. official said the State Department would summon a senior Syrian diplomat to condemn the assault on the embassy and demand that Syria uphold international treaty obligations to protect foreign diplomatic missions. The official said Syrian security forces who are supposed to guard the mission were slow to respond to the attack by supporters of President Bashar Assad, which was allegedly incited by government affiliated media.
Because the Marine guard contingent at the embassy reacted quickly, the attackers were not able to break into any buildings on the compound and there were no injuries reported to embassy personnel, who are all accounted for, the official said. But the official said the attackers did damage the chancery building. The damage is still being assessed, the official said."
Video shows Syrian protesters smashing windows at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, raising a Syrian flag and scrawling graffiti calling the American ambassador a "dog."